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"Born 1871 in WaK lened in the HiinaU>-M with the 
Briush Trantport Corp) and in the Boxer RcbellJon, 
helped conitnici the CP.R^ tnught with the Canadian 
Fjip^itionary Forte 19I1-I7, a rctideni of Vancoovef 
for forty yean, itill a reader at 91, donated kit coUectioa 
of 4.000 bookj in 1965. 




[A Critical Examination of 
"God the Invisible King"] 




in 201 

University o 



bia Library 










PubU,)ud April, 1918 




Prologue 1 


I. — A Bird's-Eye View 9 

II. — Two Sides to the Racial Medal 22 

III. — The Unity of Ixdia 43 

IV. — Hindu Spirituality i55 

V. — Caste and its Concomitants 89 

VI.— IVIanners 110 

VII. — The Indian Opposition 127 

VIII. — Art and Culture 188 

IX. — Education 256 

Epilogue 295 

Index 321 


The Khyber Pass Frontispiece 


Tanjore: Small Temple 40 

Gateway of the Temple, Trichinopoly (Trifala of Vishnu 
over Door) 80 

Brahui, Shepherd Class 120 

The Taj Mahal 160 

The Palace Lake, Udaipur 200 

Navigation on the Ganges (A Raft of Inflated Nilghau 
Skins) 240 

A Ghat, Benares 280 



There is a turn in the Kliybcr Pass, as it winds from Ali 
Musjid to Jamrud, where all at once you see the mountain 
wall drop away to its foundation, and look out over a tawny 
plain, stretching illimitably into a far-off purple haze. 

No spot on earth is more saturated with the romance of 
history. For that plain is INDIA ; and from here or here- 
abouts has it been first surveyed by the swarms of oncoming 
Aryans, by Alexander and his Greeks, by Scythian, Tartar 
and Afghan hordes, by Timur, by Babar, by Nadir Shah, 
and other conquerors without number. Behind that purple 
haze lie Kashmir, the poet's fablcland; Lahoi-e the capital, 
and Amritsar the holy city, of the Sikhs; the glorious 
mosques, palaces and mausoleums of Dellii and Agra, of 
Fatehpur Sikri and Bijapur; the tragic fastnesses of the 
Rajputs; Benares, unique in its squalid sublimity; the huge 
and sinister temples of the South; upstart smoke-breathing 
emporiums of the sea-borne invader; mighty rivers whose 
names arc as old as history ; battlefields by the score, from 
mytliic Ivurukshetra to thrice-ensanguined Panipat, from 
Plassey to Sobraon and Gujrat, where East came to grips 
with West; and, circling it all in, the white pinnacles of the 
most tremendous mountain barrier in the world, in whose 
impenetrable solitudes sujicrstition can still place unre- 
proved the abode of ever-living sages, holding daily com- 
mune with the gods. For the superstitions and legends of 
this land are as colossal as everything else within its fron- 



tiers. Hideous savageries of cult and custom prevailed in it 
till yesterday, and are not even now extinct. Its myths, its 
deities, its idols, are each more monstrous than the last ; and 
the worship of stocks and stones is inextricably commingled 
with the no less superstitious worship of filmy and air-drawn 
metaphysical fantasies. Such is the country on the threshold 
whereof we stand, as Alexander stood three-and-twenty cen- 
turies ago; and working itself out in this historic and 
prehistoric wonderland, we can now see the most romantic 
adventure of modem times, a huge, precarious, blundering, 
heroic experiment in organization, pacification, civilization. 
Is there any other region in the world which makes such a 
multiform appeal to the vision, the imagination and the 

I, at any rate, know of no other. India is the Italy of 
Asia ; and though the past of India cannot vie with that 
of Italy in world-historic significance, its present is incom- 
parably more picturesque and fraught with vaster issues. 

When I landed in India, nothing was further from my 
thoughts than the writing of such a book as this. But the 
country cast an instant spell on me. Its surface aspects 
enthralled me, its problems became an obsession. Gradually 
the idea grew upon me that there was but one possible 
solution for these problems, but one honourable, desirable 
and fortunate consummation to the great adventure. It is 
that idea which informs the following pages. 

This is not a book of travel. Of the surface aspects 
of India, fascinating as they are, I shall have little to say. 
The work of the picturesque tourist has been done to un- 
approachable perfection by the late G. W. Steevens, whose 
book. In India, is a masterpiece of exact observation and 
vivid portrayal. Excellent, too, is Mr. Sydney Low's 
Vision of India; and Mr. H. W. Nevinson's New Sjnrit in 
India contains many admirable pages both of description 


and comment. With these writers I attempt no rivalry ; 
and still less, of course, with the many able authorities on 
Indian affairs whom the civil and political services have 
produced.* How, then, can I justify this addition to the 
mountainous mass of Anglo-Indian literature? Simply by 
the fact that I had something to say wliich has not, to my 
knowledge, been fully, explicitly and dispassionately said 

Not that I pretend to have made any great discovery. 
Many people, as I hope to show, have taken a similar view 
of the case. But some of them have been restrained by 
official traditions from speaking out very clearly. Others 
have spoken with a passionate partisanship, or with a 
querulous pessimism, wliich has lessened the weight of 
their words. I see no reason for pessimism, I see no reason 
for invective. What I see is an extraordinarily interesting 
and comphcated situation, which wisdom may work out 
to a triumphant issue, or unwisdom may precipitate to 
disaster. And I feel so strong a conviction as to the 
course which wisdom dictates that I should regard it almost 
as a shirking of duty to refrain from stating my view, for 
what it is worth. 

There is also, of course, the possibility that the situation 
may be inherently hopeless — one which no conceivable exer- 
cise of reason can turn to good. I do not think that this is 
so; but if it is — if the experiment is foredoomed to failure — 
at least let us fail magnanimously, and not stupidly. 

I shall not here anticipate the course of my argument. 
But it may be well to show unmistakably from the outset 
that the attitude of mind which I criticize and would fain 
see altered is, in fact, the official attitude of mind. 

* Without (lisparafrc-iiu-nt to others, I may mention Sir BampfyUie 
Fuller's Studies in Indian Life and Sentiment as an extremely interest- 
ing and informing work. 



On August 25th, 1911, the Governor-General in Council 
signed a momentous despatch to the Secretary of State for 
India. It dealt mainly with the question of the change of 
capital; but the passage which was most eagerly read and 
welcomed in India ran as follows : 

It is certain that, in the course of time, the just demands of 
Indians for a larger share in the government of the country will 
have to be satisfied, and the question will be how this devolution 
of power can be conceded witliout impairing the supreme authority 
of the Governor-General in Council. The only possible solution 
of the difficulty would appear to be gradually to give the Prov- 
inces a larger measure of self-government, until at last India 
would consist of a number of administrations, autonomous in all 
provincial affairs, with the Government of India above them all, 
and possessing power to interfere in cases of misgovernment, 
but ordinarily restricting its functions to matters of Imperial 

INIonths passed ; the King-Emperor paid liis memorable 
visit to India, a finelj'-inspired act of true Kingship ; and 
it seemed as though a new era were dawning in the relations 
of the two peoples. Then someone in England called atten- 
tion to the liberalism, cautious but explicit, of the above 
paragraph from Lord Hardinge's despatch ; and behold ! 
the Liberal Secretary of State had nothing more pressing 
to do than to disavow it. In the House of Lords, on June 
24th, 1912, the Marquis of Crewe said : 

There was a certain section in India which looked forward to 
a measure of self-government approaching to that which had 
been granted to the Dominions. He saw no future for India on 
these lines. The experiment of a measure of self-government, 
practically free from parliamentary control, to a race which was 
not our own, even though that race enjoyed the advantages of 
the best services of men belonging to our race, was one which 
could not be tried. It was his duty as Secretary of State to 


repudiate the idea that the despatch implied anything of the 
kind, as the hope or goal of the policy of the Government. 

In a later debate (July 29th) Lord Crewe was still more 
emphatic, laying it down in so many words that: 

The maintenance and perpetual continuance of British 
ride is the best way of securing the happiness of the Indian 

The bomb thrown at the Viceroy on December 23rd, as 
he entered the new cajDital, may probably be construed as a 
rejoinder to tliis utterance. It was an inibecile retort, 
condemned by all reasonable men,t in India no less than in 
England; yet the fact remains that, by insisting on an 
inconceivable perpetuity of rule, we not only inflame Indian 
unreason, but alienate Indian reason. Terrorism I do not 
regard as an important factor in the case, however un- 
pleasant; but if the British Government thinks that even 
the sanest and most law-abiding citizens of India sincerely 
accept the principle laid down by Lord Crewe, I believe it 
to be labouring under a disastrous illusion. 

This is, in fact, my case; and it is a case which I cannot 
expect to commend itself, at first blush, to British, or Anglo- 
Indian, opinion. Neither can I hope, unfortunately, that 
my argument will be read with approval in India ; for I have 
much to saj' that cannot be agreeable to Indian self-com- 
placenc}'. Those Europeans seem to me very false friends 
to India who gloze over, or even treat as advantages, the 
historic misfortunes under which she suffers. At all events, 
it is an essential part of my case that India is as yet far 
from being prepared to take an equal place among the 
civilized nations of the world. A schoolboy of my 
acquaintance came home the other day much elated because, 

* Hansard report. Tlie Times report omits "perpetual." 
t "Even the women deplore it," a leading Bengali journalist said to 
me on the morrow of the outrage. 



in the singing class, he had been promoted from the best 
of those wlio sing badly to the worst of those who sing well. 
In the eyes of his elders the distinction did not seem very 
important ; and, similarly, I do not think it important to 
decide whether India is the most forward of barbarous, or 
the most backward of civilized, nations. One or other, 
to my mind, she certainly is ; and this view conflicts very 
definitely with the opinion of a great many Indians, who 
hold her to be little less than a divinity under a temporary 
cloud. I must face with what resolution I may the fate of 
the impartial commentator who exasperates both parties. 
But if this book should fall into the hands of any of the 
Indian gentlemen who treated me with ungrudging cor- 
diality and kindness, I beg them to believe that what I 
learned from them was a firm faith in the ability of their 
race to retrieve its age-old misfortunes, and shape for 
itself a real future as glorious as its mj'thic past. 

I am well aware that if any one of these gentlemen chose 
to apply a searching criticism to English life, he could, 
with no extravagance of paradox, retort at many points 
the reproach of "barbarism" which I am compelled to level 
against so many aspects of Indian life, both material and 
spiritual. The incompleteness of Western civilization is 
only too manifest, in churches redolent of myth and magic, 
monarchies aureoled in superstition, rank-worship only 
less contemptible than wealth-worship, militarism, even in 
times of peace, sapping the best energies of the peoples, 
and industrialism so iniquitously organized, or unorganized, 
as to engender "the slum and the sweating-shop, and foster 
the gin-palace and the brothel. "If this be Western civil- 
ization," an Indian critic may be tempted to say, "give 
me Eastern barbarism!" I suggest, however, that he wiU 
do well to resist the temptation. Europe, with all its crimes 
and imbecilities, is many centuries further from the Ur- 


DummJieit than un-Europcanized India. It is struggling 
out of the ages of faitli into the age of knowledge. Some 
of the worst of its evils proceed from the very rapidity of 
its movement ; whereas the evils of India are those of secular 
stagnation. I readily admit that the barbarism of India 
has picturesque and even venerable aspects to which few 
of the barbarisms of Europe can lay claim ; but that does 
not make it either desirable or permanently possible in the 
modem world. 

In the spelling of Indian names I have been guided by 
convenience, and have not tried to adhere consistently to 
any system. The accents on Sanskrit words I have entirely 
disregarded, as they convey no meaning except to Sanskrit 
scholars. By "Anglo-Indian" I mean Anglo-Indian, not 
Eurasian. The attempt to divert to a new and inappro- 
priate use a word so thoroughly established in the English' 
language can lead to nothing but confusion. 

One of the following chapters — the sixth — has already 
appeared in the Fortniglitly Review, and is here reprinted 
by permission of the Editor. 



The Viceroy of India rules over three liundred and fifteen 
million people, or in other words about one-fifth of the 
human race. His territory equals in extent the whole of 
Europe, minus Russia. It is less than half the territory 
of the United States ; but, on the other hand, it outstrips 
the United States in population by more than three to one. 
His government, though subject to the control of the Parlia- 
ment at Westminster, is absolutely autocratic in relation 
to the people of India. He, and the Governors subordinate 
to him, are bound by recent regulations to ask the advice 
of certain Indian gentlemen ; but they are not in the least 
bound to foUow it. The European force behind tliis autoc- 
racy consists of 75,000 soldiers — say, one to every 4,500 
of the people. The European executive numbers some 
1,500 officials, or one ruler to every 200,000 of the ruled. 

Thus summarized in cold figures, the British dominion 
in India seems wonderful enough. But until you see it 
in actual working — in its habit, or habits, as it lives — 
the true mai-vel of it can be but faintly realized. The 
more you see of it, indeed, the more incredible it appears. 
Beside it the Roman Empire seems almost a commonplace 
affair. The organizing genius of Rome radiated from the 
centre outwards, and Roman civilization followed the 
Roman arms, either imposing itself upon barbarisms, or 
arriving at an amicable com])romise with pre-cxistent civili- 
zations. British rule in India does not radiate from a centre, 



but is projected over more than 6,000 miles of sea;* and 
British civilization, though it is, to some extent, influencing 
India by sheer force of contact, remains absolutely alien to 
the enormous mass of the people. The Briton comes to 
India to govern, governs, and goes away again. His 
relations with a few Indians may be more or less friendly ; 
but he no more enters into the national life of the country 
than the plumber who puts in your water-pipes, or the 
electrician who "wires" your house, becomes a member of 
your family. It is in this complete and deliberately-culti- 
vated externality that the wonder of British rule consists. 

The huge pear-shaped region which we call India is 
enveloped from the Himalayas to Cape Comorin, from 
Baluchistan to Burma, in the network of the British raj. 
The meshes of the net are wide, but they are woven with 
great regularity and they are extremely tough. A fierce 
attempt to burst through them, in 18.57, led only to a 
firmer re-weaving of the fabric. It is true that about a 
third part of the whole territory, with a population of 
70,000,000, remains under the nominal, and in some eases 
the more or less real, rule of Indian princes ; but to each 
court a British resident is attached whose word is law 
in all essential matters ; and the proudest of the princes 
rules only "during good beha\dour," with no power to enter 
into foreign relations, or to raise an efficient army of his 
own. In the largest of the states, Hyderabad and Mysore, 
the great British cantonments of Secunderabad and Ban- 
galore are a constant reminder that the suzerain power 
is no effete tradition. In British territory proper, with 
its million square miles and its 245,000,000 people, the 

* They were 13,000 miles when the British rule took its rise; and the 
voyage, which now occupies some three weeks, then took from six to 
twelve months. 


meslics of the net arc closer, and its foreignness, its ex- 
ternality, is even more apparent. Is not a net by its 
very nature a forcig'n substance, in relation to the objects 
which it encloses and holds togctlierr' 

The great Presidency towns, Calcutta, Bombay, Madras, 
are European cities planted on Indian soil. All the pro- 
minent buildings are European, though in some of the more 
recent ones an endeavour has been made to adopt what is 
known as the "Indo-Saracenic" style of architecture. For 
the rest, the streets are called by English names, generally 
the names of bygone Viceroys and Governors, or of the 
soldiers who conquered the land and quelled the Mutiny — 
heroes whose effigies meet you at every turn. The shops are 
English shops, wliere English or Eurasian assistants traffic 
in English goods. English carriages and motors bowl 
along the macadamized or tarred roads of old England. 
On every hand there is evidence of the instinctive effort to 
reproduce, as nearly as the climate will permit, English 
conditions of life. In Bombay, indeed, the merchant princes 
are no longer Europeans, but Hindus and Parsis. Theirs 
are the most sumptuous palaces on Malabar Hill; theirs 
the most "swagger" motors on the Queen's Road and the 
Apollo Bunder. In Calcutta, though commercial competi- 
tion is less keen, the great Bengali landowner is a prominent 
and important personage. But almost the whole life of the 
people of India is relegated to the back streets, not to say 
the slums — frankly called in Madras the Black Town. 
There are a few points — clubs and gymkhanas specially 
established to that end — where English men, and even 
women, meet Indian men, and even women, of the wealthier 
classes, on a basis of social equality. But few indeed are 
the points of contact between the Asian town and the 
European city which has l)een superimposed upon it. The 
missionarv, the Salvation Army outpost, perhaps the 


curiosit3--hunting tourist, may go forth into the bazaars; 
but the European community as a whole cares no more 
for the swarming brown multitudes around it than the 
dwellers on an island care for the fishes in the circumambient 

Leave the Presidenc3^ towns and go to the provincial 
capitals or to the smaller stations, and what do you find? 
Go to Allahabad, to Lucknow, to Lahore, to Poona, to 
Agra, even to Delhi itself — everywhere you are in a British 
town, with British street names, British shops, British 
churches, British statues, British red-pillar-letter-boxes, 
British "Standings for Hackney Carriages," British "No 
Thoroughfare" and "Trespassers will be prosecuted"" 
notice-boards, British customs, conventions and traditions 
rampant on every hand. Everywhere, no doubt, there is 
a "native" town, more or less adjoining the British civil 
station and military cantonment. Sometimes, as at Delhi 
and Benares, this town is a show place which everyone 
visits ; but in other cases neither travellers nor the ordinary 
run of residents give it so much as a passing thought. 
Externally the British station is extremely unlike a town 
in the old countrj'. Land was apparently of no value when 
these settlements were laid out; so that each bungalow 
stands in a spacious "compound," often acres in extent, 
and the dwellings of a hundred Europeans, with their 
servants, will often occupy an area that would accommodate 
many thousands in the adjacent bazaar, or in a city of 
Europe or America. It must be owned that the Anglo- 
Indian leads a spacious life. His settlements realized the 
ideal of the "garden city" before that term was invented. 
Miles of roadway, from 70 to 130 feet wide, are densely 
overarched by those wonderful trees wliich are the incom- 
parable glory of India. In many places there are three 
rows of trees, and a tan-covered ride skirts the macadamized 


driving-way. Every house has its own embowering trees ; 
and there are often — as, for instance, at Lahore and 
Amritsar — spacious public gardens as well. The result is, of 
course, that distances are enormous, and walking, even 
when the temperature admits of it, is impossible. Every- 
body rides or drives, and of late years the motor-cycle is 
much in evidence. Even the shops stand in their own com- 
pounds, and you approach your tailor's by a carriage drive 
that would do credit to a duke's town-house. 

The life of these stations, though comfortable and 
pleasant, is by no means extravagantly luxurious. But what- 
ever else it may be, it is utterly, aggressively British. The 
sahib generally rises early, has his "chota hazri," or morning 
cup of tea, and goes off for his still more indispensable morn- 
ing "exercise." If the hounds do not meet, he and his 
"memsahib" are probably content with a canter along 
the tan-track of the ]Mall, round the race-course, and back 
by Dalhousie Road, Lytton Avenue and Lansdowne Park 
— some six or eight miles in all. Then he has his bath, 
and runs through a few official files before breakfast. After 
breakfast he sets to work in earnest to govern the country, 
as magistrate, as revenue assessor and collector, as con- 
science-keeper to an Indian prince, as head of some huge 
district, or, it may be, as governor of a province more 
populous than Great Britain. He leaves off governing for 
tiffin at two, and then governs again till tea-time. Between 
tea and dinner he goes to the Club, meets the other sahibs 
of the station, male and female, civil, political and military, 
plays tennis, and (after dusk) Badminton by lampliglit, 
listens to the regimental band discoursing melodies from 
"The Up-to-Datc (Jirl," and looks at the English illus- 
trated and sporting papers. At eight he goes home to 
dress for dinner at eight-thirty. For a doniestic meal 
he puts on a "short coat" and a black tie, and tlio same if 



he is dining out "quite quietly." If that deprecatory 
formula does not occur in the invitation, he arrays himself 
in swallow-tail and white choker, and expects to drink 
champagne. Often, before he goes to bed, he will again 
plunge into the "files" which are always awaiting him, 
and bum the midnight oil over reams of conflicting , per- 
juries in some case that has come before him on appeal. 
For it is no easy job this governing of India, nor does the 
British oSicial take it easily. His innocent recreations 
are not more than enough to keep him "fit." The routine 
above sketched is, in many cases, varied bj' periodical 
excursions "into districts," when the official lives for weeks 
in tents, moving from village to village, and investigating 
on the spot questions of revenue, police, irrigation, public 
works and what not. This, however, must be regarded, not 
as a hardship, but as a pleasant variety in his duties ; for 
the Indian servant has mastered the art of tent life, and 
can generally make his sahib extremely comfortable, even 
under unpromising circumstances. 

I am not, for the moment, either praising or dispraising 
the government thus conducted. For the moment the point 
to be noted is its undisguised and systematic foreignness. 
India is administered from a network of foreign townsliips, 
planted in her midst, in close association with another net- 
work of cantonments, or foreign military camps. Of the 
heads of the Government not one is an Indian. A very few 
Indians hold moderately high appointments, especially 
judicial; but they are, to the mass of the civil and political 
services, at the outside, as one in twenty. In subordinate 
civil functions — in the secretariats, in the police, the post- 
office, the telegraphs, the railways, and so forth — millions 
of Indians are employed, but alwaj's under the ej'e of 
European superiors. A considerable number of British 


officials do their work not only conscientiously but enthu- 
siastically. They study the people they are set to rule 
over, encourage and develop the better sides of their 
character, master their languages, even their dialects, and 
govern, in a word, not only capably but sympathetically. 
These, however, are necessarily exceptions. The average 
British official, though honest, hard-working and efficient 
according to his lights, does little to mitigate the crude 
fact of racial domination. He seldom dreams of wearing 
a velvet glove on the iron hand. He sincerely believes that 
the Oriental character understands and appreciates nothing 
but despotism ; and he consistently acts up to that belief — - 
for which, indeed, there is a great deal to be said. I am not, 
I repeat, either praising or condemning him. I am simply 
trying to throw into relief the astounding fact that we have 
in India three hundred million people whose political life 
consists in "obeying orders given in a foreign accent." 

And who are these people? A brutish, savage race, 
born to tutelage as the sparks fly upwards.'' Let us hear 
Edmund Burke on the point: 

This multitude of men does not consist of an abject and bar- 
barous population. . . . [They are] a people for ages civilized 
and cultivated; cultivated by all the arts of polished life while 
we were yet in the woods. 

I shall have to argue later that this is a violent and 
mischievous overstatement; but the fact that it could be 
made with any sort of plausibility' by such a man as Burke 
is sufficient for my present purpose. And one thing is 
certain: namely, that everj' educated Hindu knows tliis 
passage by heart, and has rubbed its flattering unction 
into the very pores of his nature. Nothing is more frequent 
in intercourse with Indians than to have them courteously 



checking themselves on the brink of a reminder that their 
ancestors were monarchs and sages while ours were woad- 
stained cave-men or lake-dwellers.* Whether the state- 
ment be true, and what, if true, should be deduced from 
it, need not here be considered. The point is that this 
race, or rather these races, are far from having no pride 
of ancestry, far from being congenitally predisposed to 
admit the superiority of a Western people. f It is true 
that not even in their wildest moments of arrogance can 
they claim to have enjoyed, at any period of their past, 
what we of the West call political freedom. But this does 
not render them less accessible to democratic ideals and 
dreams, less sensitive to the diminutio capitis involved in 
obeying a caste of foreign rulers. Historj', in short, ex- 
plains the origin, and accounts for the possibility, of the 
British dominion in India, but offers no adequate basis for 

• The late Mr. G. K. Gokhale, speaking at the Kational Liberal Club, 
London, on November 15, 1905, said: "The people of India are an an- 
cient race who had attained a high degree of cirilization long before the 
ancestors of European nations understood what civilization was. India 
has been the birthplace of great religions. She was also the cradle and 
long the home of literature and philosophy, of science and arts." 

t As a small illustration of this fact take the following passage from 
The Heart of Hinduism by Sir Narayan Chandavarkar, a Judge of the 
Bombay High Court: "From Hindus Englishmen have borrowed the 
habit of daily bathing. Other nations in Europe are still backward; 
but they, too, are slowly learning." At no period of history have Indians 
been inclined to admit or to realize that they had anything to learn from 
the outside world. It is surprising to observe how little they profited 
by the Greek influences wiiich came home to them pretty closely in the 
centuries after Alexander's invasion. They learned something in sculp- 
ture, but that was all. The theory that their drama shows Greek in- 
fluences I believe to be mistaken. "Asoka," says Mr. Vincent Smith, 
"was much more anxious to communicate the blessings of Buddhist teach- 
ing to Antiochos and Ptolemy than to borrow Greek notions from them." 
And again: "The Indians were impressed by both Alexander and 
Menander as mighty captains, not as missionaries of culture, and no 
doubt regarded both these sovereigns as impure barbarians, to be feared 
but not imitated." Early History of India, p. 225. 



the theory that it is providentially adapted to the unalter- 
able psychology of the Indian people. To any Indian with 
a gleam of intelligence, it can only appear the final outcome 
and symbol of a series of historic disasters, stretching back 
into the very dawn of recorded time. 

To such an Indian, and indeed to any moderately un- 
biased and thinking person, the British rule may seem 
tolerable, and even indispensable, as a means to an end. 
But it is hard to understand how any thinking person, 
English or Indian, can regard it as an end in itself, a thing 
desirable for its own sake. If England recognizes in time 
this plain and simple distinction, many of her hardest 
problems in India will gradually solve themselves, and the 
history of her Indian Empire will always be to her a legiti- 
mate source of pride. But if she declines to recognize 
it, and obstinately stakes her national prestige upon the 
endurance for ever and ever of her autocratic rule in India, 
she is heading towards certain disaster for herself and 
for all the millions whom Fate has entrusted to her care. 

It is not in human nature that such peoples as those of 
India should rest pcraianently content to lead their lives 
under the domination of an alien, unsympathetic, uncom- 
prehending and uncomprchended race. Actual political 
disaffection may be as yet confined to a small minoi-ity ; 
but there arc and will always be plenty of definite and 
material subjects of discontent, coming home to vast num- 
bers of people; and, rightly or wrongly, the Sirkar, tlic 
Government, will always be held to blame for whatever is 
amiss. Thus "unrest," though it may simmer down for 
a time, will always be latent and easily revived ; and if 
England should ever, for a single month, lose the com- 
mand of the sea, and find her communications cut off by a 
hostile Power, there can bo little doubt that India, if still 
in her j)rescnt temper, would burst into a blaze of rebellion. 



This prophecy may seem surprising in view of the loyalty 
displayed during the European War b}- the Indian Princes 
and the Indian army; but though that lo^-alty was admir- 
able it does not alter the fundamental facts. The Princes 
are naturallj- a conservative aristocracy, whose interests 
are bound up in the existing state of things, and whose 
position in a revolutionary, democratic India would be very 
difficult, not to say impossible; but they could do little to 
stem a revolutionarj' movement if once it got under way. 
The army is loyal to the hand that feeds it, so to speak. 
It is loyal so long as it feels itself a part of a vast and 
smoothly-working machine, deriving its power from a 
distant, vaguely-realized source. But once let the power 
be cut off, once let the machine cease to function smoothly, 
and the army would be at the mercy of the agitator 
and the demagogue. The very participation of India in the 
German War has placed a weapon in the hands of the 
revolutionist, who can represent as black ingratitude on 
England's part any tardiness in fulfilling the expectations 
of Indian nationalism, however premature or exorbitant. 
If rebellion should break out, aU sanely patriotic In- 
dians would be plunged in grief, realizing that, whether 
successful or not, it could have none but disastrous results. 
But sane patriotism would have no chance against hot- 
headed enthusiasm, asking "Are we to submit for ever to the 
autocratic domination and exploitation of a handful of 
arrogant foreigners.'" There would be sufficient spe- 
ciousness in this view of the case to render it irresistible 
to over-wrought brains. But if, on the other hand, the Gov- 
ernment had, for a series of years, in word and in deed, shown 
that it sincerely realized its true mission, not of carrying 
on its present routine to all eternity, but of making India a 
nation and gradually preparing it for self-government, 
there would be a reasonable probabilitv that, even in Eng- 


land's direst straits, sane counsels would prevail, and India 
would be in no undue haste to cut the leading-strings and 
prematurely declare herself an adult and self-sufficient jjoliti- 
cal entity. This she is far enough from being, all reasonable 
people admit ; but, thanks to British rule, she is much 
nearer to political cohesion and competence than she ever 
was before in the whole course of her history. It lies with us 
to decide whether we shall recognize and consciously for- 
ward this process of evolution, or stupidly attemjit to 
check it, in the interests of an unimaginable permanence 
of things as they are. We have before us a great oppor- 
tunity and a great danger; if we neglect the one, we shall 
infallibly rush headlong into the other. 

There is nothing paradoxical, nothing even novel, in this 
view of England's opportunity in India. It has been held 
and uttered, more or less explicitly, by many English 
and Anglo-Indian statesmen. It may even be said that 
the sempitemity of British domination is a recent pseudo- 
ideal, begotten of that thoughtless Imperialism which re- 
gards not only the Indian Empire, but the whole Empire of 
Great Britain, as an end in itself, and not as a means to a 
higher end. I am no Little Englander; on the contrary-, 
I regard the British P'^mpire as one of the greatest, and 
possibly one of the beneficent, facts of history. Even 
in India, I have not the slightest sympathy with those 
who indiscriminately applaud everything Indian, and have 
nothing but carping disparagement for the great work 
England has done. I admire it whole-heartedly ; but that 
does not prevent me from recognizing that it must ulti- 
mately go to ruin if it is inspired by a false and imprac- 
ticable ideal. 

The time is ripe for the open recognition and promul- 
gation of a justcr view of England's duty iind opjiortunity. 
Without making too nmch of the well-meant but rather 


ineffectual efforts at social approximation between the East 
and the West, one maj' safely say that the brutally con- 
temptuous attitude of the West to the East — never the 
attitude of good or intelhgent men — has had its day and 
survives only among the dregs of the European population. 
Bad manners are no longer good form, and it is being 
generally realized that racial superiority, if it exists at 
all, is not to be demonstrated by bluster and swagger. 
And as outward manifestations cannot change without a 
corresponding change in inward feeling, it is certain that 
the decline of swagger in manner is not unaccompanied 
by a decline of swagger in thought. Respect for the human 
rights of the Indian cannot be quite divorced from respect 
for his political aspirations ; and even in the most unlikely 
official quarters one does already find the germs of such 
respect. Oddly enough, the outward, if not the inward, 
change is probably to be traced back to the execrated 
viceroyalty of Lord Curzon; but it has been greatly pro- 
moted under that statesman's successors. What is needed 
now is an explicit recognition in the liighest quarters of a^ 
change of attitude which, though hitherto unrecognized, 
is already in great measure accomplished. There is no 
need for definite pledges, or rash speculations as to the 
probable rapidity of progress. The essential point is that 
British rule should be openly confessed and authoritatively 
proclaimed to be a means, not an end. As soon as this idea or 
ideal had percolated, as it rapidly would, from the centre to 
the extremities of the governing body, a happy change in the 
relations of the two races would, naturally and without 
effort, manifest itself. I do not mean a social approx- 
imation, which seems to me difficult and unimportant. What 
I mean is that the Indian in official life would feel a new self- 
respect, and that this feeling would react upon the 
European attitude towards him. Indian patriotism, in a 


word, would no longer have to choose between querulous 
opposition to the Government at every possible point, and 
pessimistic acquiescence in foreign rule, simply "lest worse 
befall." There would still be plenty of friction, plenty of 
difference of opinion as to the best means of attaining the 
common end ; but they would be the differences of normal 
political life, not of irreconcilably conflicting purposes and 

This is, in outline, the view of England's opportunity 
which I propose to develop in the following pages. I need 
not, at tliis point, further anticijDate tlie course of my 
argument. But one question which will certainly be asked 
I can answer quite briefly and without delay. "British 
rule," it may be said, "is, according to you, a means to an 
end, that end being a united and self-governing India. Do 
you propose that this self-governing state should be part of 
the British Empire, or independent of it.'"' My answer 
is: "Sufficient for the day are the problems thereof." 
Many a long year will have to pass before India is ripe for 
self-government ; and who can tell what may be the state 
and constitution of the British Empire when that date is 
reached.'' It may have broken up into its component parts; 
it may be merged into a larger synthesis ; all we know is 
that it will be a very different thing from the Empire of 
to-day. It is sheer waste of time to wrangle over the 
formula "within or without the Empire." So much alone 
is certain: we are far more likely to keep India witliin the 
Empire by fostering than by obstinately thwarting her 
natural aspirations. A nation of 300,000,000 cannot be 
held in permanent subjection, against its will, by a nation 
of 40,000,000 ; and India, thanks to our rule, is rapidly 
becoming a nation and developing a will of her own. 




The first thing to be done if we would understand the 
Indian problem aright is to determine the true status of 
the Indian peoples among the races of the world. The 
instinct of the European is to assume without further 
inquiry the inferiority of everyone who wears, like Othello, 
"the shadowed livery of the burnished sun." Even the 
oUve complexion of an Italian or Spaniard is a little sus- 
picious to the peoples of the North. In America to-day, 
Dante and Cervantes would be contemptuously bracketed 
as "dagos." But when the olive tint deepens into choco- 
late, there is no longer any question, in some minds, as to 
the racial inferiority it implies. When Mr. Dadabhai 
Naoroji, a Bombay Parsi, stood for the borough of Central 
Finsbury, Lord Salisbury sneered at the notion that a 
British constituency should ever return "a black man;" 
and it is likely enough that Mr. Naoroji would not have 
been elected had liis complexion in any way justified Lord 
Salisbury's epithet. The time is not so long gone by when 
Englishmen used to lump together the peoples of India 
as "niggers;" and though that stupidity has been stamped 
out,* the inveterate habit of associating a dark skin with 
congenital inferiority still lies at the root of a great deal 
of our thinking and feeling with regard to India. 

* Mrs. Besant says that it still survives; and, as she would not speak 
without warrant, I presume there must be isolated Rip Van Winkles who 
have not yet awakened to its enormity. They have not even read their 


On the other hand, as I liave already said, manj- Indians 
return the compHmcnt by looking down on Europeans as an 
inferior and upstart brood, mere parvenus in the domain 
of civilization. Hindustan — "Aryavarta" — is the nurserj- 
and homo of all true religion, philosophy and culture; 
and, when her present period of eclipse is past, India is to 
arise in her glory for the salvation of the world. Such is 
the sentiment expressed by that very cultivated woman and 
true poetess, Sarojini Naidu, of Hyderabad, in her ode: 


Oh, young through all thy immeraorial years, 
Rise, Mother, rise regenerate from thy gloom, 

And, like a bride high-mated with the spheres, 
Beget new glories from thy ageless womb. 

The nations that in fettered darkness weep 

Crave thee to lead them wliere great mornings break. . . . 
Mother, oh Mother, wherefore dost thou sleep? 

Arise and answer, for thy children's sake. 

The Future calls thee with a manifold sound 
To crescent honors, splendors, victories vast; 

Waken, oh slumbering Mother, and be crowned. 
Who once wert empress of the sovereign Past. 

It is onl}' fair to assume that "the nations" who are 
represented as waiting to be liberated by India arc nations 
within her bounds, she being conceived for the nonce as an 
ideal entit}', distinct from the geograpliical or racial 
divisions of which she is composed. But even if we thus limit 
the meaning of the second stanza, we can scarcely interpret 
in so limited a sense the line "Who once wert empress of 
the sovereign Past." The poetess does not mean that India 


was empress of her own past, but of the past of the world; 
ami, as it is manifest that this was never true in a political 
sense, we must interpret it spiritually, as an assertion of 
bygone but recoverable supremacy in the realm of intellect 
and soul. And to thousands of Indians this is an article 
of faith. Far from being conscious of any drawback of 
race, they hold themselves a chosen people, the deposi- 
tories from of old of all the highest wisdom of the world. In 
tliis belief, moreover, they are encouraged and established 
by plenty of Western testimony. For instance, the Central 
Hindu College at Benares, founded by an Englishwoman 
and (until recently) controlled by an Englishman, pub- 
lishes An Elementary Text-Book of Hindu Religion and 
Ethics, on the second page of which the novice is assured 

No other Religion has produced so many great men — great 
teacners, great writers, great sages, great saints, great kings, 
great warriors, great statesmen, great benefactors, great patriots. 

It would be easy to quote scores of testimonials to a like 
effect, from Western as well as Eastern sources, often 
combined with vague allusions to a political Golden Age, 
at some undetermined point in the misty regions of Indian 
antiquit3\ One need scarcely add that these crude stimu- 
lants to national self-esteem are greedily swallowed, with 
such effects as crude stimulants are usually apt to produce. 

If we clear our minds of unreasoning prejudice on the one 
hand and visionary sentimentality on the other, we shall 
arrive without too much difficulty at the plain truth of the 
matter. The Indian races, take them all round, are not 
low, but very high races. They are not "black men" as 
the negro is black, but sunburnt white men.* Colour is an 

* Recent research is said to discountenance the idea that the heat of 
the sun has anything to do with darlj pigmentation. Nature, in that 
case, seems to have taken some trouble to put us on a wrong scent. 


accident in India; in Africa, and Afro-America, it marks a 
radical difrerence. In some districts of India there is, no 
doubt, a slight negroid infusion, but it is scarcely more 
influential than the negroid infusion in Europe. A large 
part of the Indian people is admittedly of the same stock as 
ourselves ; but I am not claiming any necessary superiority 
for the "Aryan brother." It is pretty clear that many of 
the races whom the Aryans found in possession of India, 
and with whom they intermingled, must have been nearly, 
if not quite, their equals in racial development. At any 
rate, it does not seem possible, at the present day, to 
declare the presumable Aryan a better man than the pre- 
sumable Dravidian. There is no part of India which does 
not produce a considerable percentage of notably fine men — 
fine in stature, in features, in facial angle, in physical de- 
velopment — and is there any country in Europe for which a 
larger claim can be advanced .!* The military pageants of 
recent years have made Londoners familiar with the magT 
nificent specimens of iiumanity who abound in our Sikh, 
Punjabi, Rajput, Maratha, Pathan regiments; but these 
might be assumed to be picked men. They were, no doubt, 
exceptional in the sense that they were well fed and ath- 
letically trained; but the raw material of such men abounds 
in every Indian village. As for the women of India, is not 
their grace proverbial? In the North (under IMuluun- 
madan influence, I presume) they often contrive to conceal 
it by wearing hideous trousers ; but in the South every girl 
who drapes herself in her sari, and goes forth to the well 
with her shining brass pitcher on her head, is a model for 
either sculptor or painter — perfect in contour, brilliant 
and yet harmonious in colouring. It is true that their 
grace is short-lived, and that they age before their time; 
but it is also true that the cliildren whom they cari-y astride 
on their hips are often divinely beautiful. I'livsicallv, 


then — whenever their circumstances are such as to give them 
a fair chance of development — the peoples of India stand 
high among the races of the world. They stand high in 
stature, proportion, power, dignity, delicacy; and — judged 
by the highest standards known to us — they often excel 
in beauty. Some of the noblest types of manhood I have 
ever seen were — or rather are — Indians. 

"Even if all you say be true," the reader may object, 
"you refer only to physique; and the place of a people 
in the racial scale cannot be determined by physique alone." 
Certainly not ; and we shall come presently to other con- 
siderations. But when we talk of "a fine race," we mean, 
in the first instance, physically "fine;" and it seems im- 
portant to make it clear that in this respect the Indian 
is at no disadvantage as compared with the ruling races of 
the world. His physique denotes (shall we say.'') the highest 
potentialities of development. One is forced, however re- 
luctantly, to recur to a comparison with the African races. 
In moving among negroes, one has constantly to avow — 
perhaps to struggle against — a sense of their fundamental, 
inherent, ineradicable inferiority. Whatever may be their 
amiable and even admirable qualities, one cannot resist the 
conviction that they are some degrees nearer the brute; 
nor can one wonder at their proved incapacity to evolve for 
themselves any approach to civilization. In moving among 
Indians, on the other hand, what is constantly borne in 
upon one is a sense of their fundamental equality, and a 
vague wonder as to how they happen to have simk to a 
position of apparent, and to some extent real, inferiority. 
The difference between the negro and the Indian is so 
enormous that the comparison seems cruel to the one and 
insulting to the other; but I know not how else to make 
clear the absurdity, as well as the brutality, of in anj' way 
associating the dark races of Asia with those of Africa. 


Even in point of complexion, many of the Indian stocks 
are much nearer to ourselves than to the negro. 

But now we come to a distinction which it is easier to feel 
than to explain. The sense of high potentiality is con- 
stantly overborne in India by a sense of actual, practical, 
palpable low development — more painful than that of the 
negro, inasmuch as it is the low development, not of one 
who has failed to rise, but of one who has fallen. I am not 
speaking, of course, of selected individuals — of a few thou- 
sands or hundreds of thousands at the top of the social, 
educational, economic tree. I am speaking of the hundreds 
of millions who are the real people of India — who must form 
the Indian nation, if such a nation is ever to exist in any 
true sense of the word. Look at the life of the villages, the 
fields, the bazaars ; study the crowds at railway-stations, 
at bathing-ghats, at places of pilgrimage; and you can- 
not but feel nearer to barbarism than in any other country 
that makes the slightest pretence to civilization. It is not 
wholly or mainly a question of caste. The "depressed 
castes," indeed, are very depressed; but the stranger does 
not with any certainty recognize caste distinctions. Many 
of the personages who strike one as most barbarous are, 
in fact, Brahmins ; and from some of the scenes in which 
barbarism is rampant, pariahs and "untouchables" are 
fiercely excluded. It may be an open question whether this 
sense of melancholy backwardness is justified, and whether 
it is, as some maintain, in great part an illusion due to 
Western prejudice. But even those who take up this 
position must surely have moments of oppression and dis- 
may in viewing the sheer multitudinousness of the Indian 
populace. These swarming myriads, vegetating, and con- 
tent to vegetate, under the dominion of noxious traditions 
and grotesque superstitions — by what magical influence 
are they or their children's cliildrcn to be rendered capable 



of self-conscious, self-respecting national life? By edu- 
cation? Yes, that is the sole resource. But in how many 
years or centuries can education undo the work of enei^at- 
ing, soul-sapping millenniums? 

This, then, is my reading of the racial status of the 
Indian people. Fundamentally they are inferior to none; 
but a long chain of prehistoric and liistoric circumstances, 
ultimately traceable to geographical conditions, has reduced 
the masses to a condition of stagnant barbarism, and "the 
classes" to an even less desirable state of inveterately self- 
satisfied pseudo-civilization, which must be radically 
amended before India can reasonably aspire to take her 
place on a footing of equality among the nations of the 
world. Far from being the most favoured region of the 
earth, as sentimental patriotism is fond of asserting, India 
has been, from the very dawn of history, among the most 
unfortunate. That is the key to her past and her present : 
it is by realizing that, and striving to repair her mis- 
fortunes, not by talk about reviving a mythical Golden Age,* 
that her sons and her sympathizers can hasten the coming 
of a united and (so to speak) an adult India. If it be asked 
whether the British rule is to be placed to the account of 

* There have been two periods, of a little over a century each, when 
the greater part of India was at any rate nominally united under Indian 
rulers, and when some approach to good government seems to have been 
attained. The Maur}'a Empire covered the third century B.C. and the 
Gupta Empire, roughly speaking, the fourth century A.D. The earlier 
period, described by Megasthenes, produced a really great monarch in 
the person of Asoka, and is certainly the nearest approach to an Indian 
Golden Age of which we have any record. Much less is known of the 
later period. Indeed, its greatest figure, Samudragupta, has left no trace 
in written records, his history having to be pieced together from inscrip- 
tions and coins. But even if we take the most romantic view of the 
civilization of these misty "empires," it is obvious that they lacked one 
important element of political well-being — namely, stability. They were 
transitory gleams in a dark and stormy internal history, constantly di- 
versified by foreign invasion. 


good or of evil fortune, the answer must be paradoxical and 
yet (I think) obvious. It is — or at any rate we trust it will 
prove to be — an extraordinary piece of good fortune ; but 
at the same time it is the outcome and final e^adence of 
no less extraordinary ill-fortune. That country must be 
hapless indeed of which it can be said that the best thing 
that could possibly befall it was a protracted period of 
foreign domination ; yet all reasonable Indians admit that, 
whatever may be the shortcomings of the British rule, this 
is the truth of the matter. If India will but realize the 
immense leeway she has to make up, and take patient, 
strenuous advantage of the opportunity for doing so 
afforded her by tlie British rule, she may one day come to 
date the dawn of her regeneration from the Battle of 

But I have strayed away from m}' immediate theme: 
the high racial potentialities of India, contrasted with its 
actual state of degradation. By way of bringing the con- 
trast home to the reader, let me jot down two impi'essions 
that came to me immediately before and immediately after 
I first set foot on Indian soil. 

Ceylon is not India, but may be called its vestibule or 
outer court; and Colombo swarms with Indians of many 
tribes and castes, from Pathans of the north to Tamil- 
speaking people of the south. Coming from Japan and 
China, I spent a few days in Colombo, and noted on the 
one hand the white people around me at m^ hotel, on the 
other hand the brown t_vpcs I encountered in the streets. 
And quite sincerely — witliout the slightest tinge of pre- 
conceived theor}' or paradox — I found myself almost blush- 
ing for my race. These Orientals, with their noble carriage, 
their dignity and distinction, seemed incomparably the finer 
breed of men. I do not mean the Sinlialose. but more par- 



ticularly the Indian immigrants. One saw sinister faces, 
one saw fanatical faces, one saw heavy and rather stupid 
faces, but not one of the unfinished, shapeless potato faces 
so common in a European crowd — so common in the 
crowd at my hotel. I must confess that, for some reason 
or other, that crowd was an exceptionally insignificant set 
of people. As I looked round the dining-room of an even- 
ing, and saw the dapper little men in their dinner-jacket 
uniform, and the overdressed or underdressed women, chat- 
tering about the day's racing or the morrow's hockey, and 
complacently listening to the imbecile jingles ground out 
by the band — I could not but ask myself by what possible 
right we posed as a superior race. Outside, in the streets, 
I had seen Shylock, I had seen Othello, I had seen Sohrab 
and Rustum, I had seen a hundred stately and impressive 
figures. I had even seen two or three men who might have 
sat to a realistic painter as models for Christ — not, of 
course, the bland and lymphatic Saviour of pictorial con- 
vention, but the olive-browed, coal-eyed Enthusiast of 
historic probability. Surely it was a strange topsy- 
turvydom that reckoned the races which had produced 
these figures essentially inferior to the trivial mob around 
me — devoid of dignity, devoid of originality, devoid of 
earnestness, all cut to one dull pattern, all living up to the 
ideals of the vulgarest sporting papers, the only literature 
to which they appeared addicted. 

I do not attribute any evidential value to this somewhat 
splenetic mood. I own that it never recurred with equal 
strength in India itself, where, take them all round, the 
sahibs look like sahibs in whatever environment they may 
be placed. They are often by no means such "fine men" 
as the Indians around them; but they and their forefathers 
for many generations have lived an intenser, a larger, a 
saner life, and it has left its imprint on their features. I 


speak particularly of the men in the upper grades of the 
services, who are, in a very real sense, picked men ; while 
my fellow-sojourners at the Colombo hotel were (I know 
not why) distinctly below the fair British average. Per- 
haps, too, my keen admiration for the Indian types to be 
seen in Ceylon was partly to be traced to my recent 
recollections of the Japanese and Chinese, whose warmest 
admirers will scarcely claim for them great dignity of car- 
riage or nobility of feature. I admit, in short, that this 
early impression of positive physical superiority in the 
races of India is subject to a good deal of discount; but I 
note it for what it is worth. Oddly enough, the one place 
where it definitely recurred to me was Calcutta. The 
physical type of the average Bengali as you meet him in 
the streets — tall, bare-headed, with his toga-like garment 
lightly draped around him — seemed to me remarkably 

Now take another impression of only two days later. 
From Colombo to Tuticorin you cross in a night; and the 
early afternoon finds you in the city of Madura, famous for 
its giant temple. The railway platform and all the purlieus 
of the station are densely thronged with pilgrims, a motley, 
scantily-attired, clamorous throng. Each family group 
has its rope-tied bundle, its brass water- jar and simple 
cooking utensils. Some are rushing aimlessly about; 
others squatting patiently to await a train which may not 
be due, perhaps, till next day; others, and these are many, 
have stretched themselves on the ground, here, there and 
everywhere, and are blissfully asleep, without even a pillow 
for their heads. The first tiling you learn in India, especially 
in Southern India, is that you must walk warily for fear of 
treading upon a slumbering fellow-citizen. But what is 
it that gives tlie crowd such a strange and savage aspect? 
Unless you arc prepared for it (as I was not) you almost 



gasp as j-ou realize that everyone has his or her forehead 
daubed with some garish device, for all the world like the 
war-paint of the Indians of the West. But this is not war- 
paint, it is religion-paint. One commonly sees these devices 
alluded to as "caste-marks," but that they are not, at least 
as a general rule. They are sect-marks — marks of devotion 
to one or other deity of the swarming Hindu pantheon. 
Many men — perhaps most — have a huge trident plastered 
on their forelicads : one red prong between two white. This 
is the trifalu, the mark of a Vaishnavite — a devotee of 
Vishnu. The devotees of Siva, at Madura at any rate, 
wear a comparatively chaste and unobtrusive device — a 
large round spot of bright carmine. But the daubs and 
blotches are endless in their variety — I never mastered the 
significance of more than two or three of them. Some 
people go about with three horizontal stripes of red or 
yellow across the whole breadth of their foreheads. Others 
wear two narrow vertical lines of vermilion with a white 
spot between them. Some wear a lozenge, others a triangle, 
others a circle with a spot in its centre. The sect-marks 
of the women are generally less obtrusive than those of the 
men, and the wearing of sect-marks at all seems to be on the 
decline in Northern India. But in the South it is prac- 
tically universal, and it gives to the people a strange air of 
savagery- combined with fanaticism. No doubt this does 
them some injustice; for, fanatics though they be, they are 
not usuall}' savage fanatics. Nevertheless, explain and 
explain-awa^- the custom as much as we please, it marks a 
low stage of spiritual development. True, it has its anal- 
ogies in civilized life. There are people in Europe, not even 
of religious profession, who obtrude their 'Saews" by wear- 
ing some sort of ecclesiastical ornament or badge. I have 
in my mind's eye at this moment a large cross aggressively 
pendent from the watch-chain of a prominent and rising 


British politician. But to show that isolated survivals of 
savagery lurk here and there in civilized countries is not 
to prove that a whole population which plasters itself 
with religious war-paint* can be placed in the forefront of 
human development — or anywliere but sadly in the rear. 

So, too, the fact that many European women wear ear- 
rings docs not render the jewellery of their Southern Indian 
sisters any the less hideous. I say nothing of the anklets 
and bangles, finger-rings and toe-rings, worn in extravagant 
profusion. It is unreasonable, no doubt, to carry these 
pounds and pounds of metal on the person ; but one cannot 
call the effect positively ugly ; it has even a certain barbaric 
charm. But what of the ear-decorations and nose-jewels? 
Outside of Darkest Africa, there is probably only one more 
repellent manifestation of a perv'erted sense of beauty, and 
that is the tortured feet of the women of China. The 
women of Southern India carry in their ears not only 
enormous hoops and clusters of hoops — that would be a 
trifle — but often great carven bars of gold, three or four 
inches long and an inch tliick, for the insertion of which 
not only the lobe of the ear but the upper cartilage is 
pierced and horribly distorted. There is a fantastic variety 
in these ornaments. You often see an ear in wliich half a 
jeweller's stock seems to be ingeniously inserted and sus- 
pended, the other half being in the other ear. And some- 
times the same woman will wear in her nose either a gold 
ring three or four inches in diameter or a sort of aigrette 
of pearls and rubies drooping over tlie left side of her upper 
lip and coming well over the inoutli. Not all women, of 
course, wear so much gold as this ; not nil bedeck both nose 

* These marks, I believe, are not really of paint, but of sandal-wood 
paste dusted over with the required eolours. In sonic eases they are 
drawn on the devotee's forehead (no doubt for a eonsideration) by the 
Brahmin who is his sjiirilual iiuide. 



and ears ; but it seemed to me in Madura that all women, 
down to the very humblest, had either silver or gold pend- 
ants or attachments, either in nose or ears, and generally of 
monstrous size. I have seen little girls of ten or twelve 
with clusters of silver hoops in their ears that must have 
weighed nearly as much as their heads. 

But stay ! not all women are so decorated. You see in 
Southern India not a few whose ear-lobes are monstrously 
expanded, so as to consist of a mere strip of cartilage round 
a hole three or four inches long, but who have nothing at 
all to fill the holes, their hoops and bars and ingots having 
all vanished away. I presume they are for the most part 
widows, whose finery has been confiscated by their deceased 
husband's relatives ; but they may also be married women 
who have gone bankrupt and been forced to part with their 
treasures — to "live upon their capital." In any case, they 
are pathetic spectacles. 

The south of India is more extravagant than the north in 
the variety and weight of its adornments ; but huge ear- 
hoops and more or less elaborate nose- jewels are common 
everywhere. Now I do not forget the parable of the mote 
and the beam, and I grant that a traveller from India might 
find many relics of barbarism in European fashions of 
feminine adornment, for some of which I have not a word to 
say. But I submit that it is no mere local prejudice which 
holds a nose-jewel fit only for savages, and which sees all 
the difference in the world between a featherweight pendant 
at the ear and a golden dumb-bell which drags the lobe 
almost down to the shoulder. Even the pendant seems to 
me an undesirable survival, and I imagine that the civilized 
woman of the future wiU reject all such ornament. But 
no array of arguments of the "tu quoque" type can alter 
the fact that the boasted "civilization" of India has left 
its women, in their use of jewellery, at a very primitive 


stage of development. Their innate grace and nobility of 
carriage bear testimony to splendid racial potentialities ; 
but in this matter of personal adornment they have stood 
still for a thousand years. And the nose-ring, it need 
scarcely be added, is not only an obtrusive fact, but a sym- 
bol of profound significance. 

Discussing caste-marks and nose-rings, we have not yet 
got beyond the platform of the Madura station. If we 
follow the stream of pilgrims, five minutes' walk will bring 
us to a street at the further end of which towers one of the 
huge gopuras of the temple. The gopura is a gateway 
surmounted by a wedge-shaped tower, 150 feet high; and, 
as you approach it, you see that the whole surface of the 
tower is one mass of human or quasi-human figures, ranged 
in horizontal rows. They are mitred, hawk-faced figures, 
wasp-waisted, and posed in a sort of affected prancing 
attitude, so that they are not only grotesque, but vaguely 
suggest some sort of sophistication or corruption. The 
main figures are, I fancy, something over life-size; and there 
are numberless subsidiary figures around them. Whether 
they are in high relief or absolutely in the round, I cannot 
say ; but the rehef, if relief there be, is certainly very high. 
The material, I take it, is some sort of terra-cotta; the 
general colouring a reddish yellow. I tried to count the 
figures on a small section of the tower, but found it quite 
impossible; at a rough guess, I should say that on one 
gopura alone there must be well over a thousand. In the 
distance, its mere mass is impressive; close nt hand it is no 
longer impressive, but oppressive in the highest degree. Tliis 
senseless reduplication to infinity of one mincing, prancing 
figure produces an indescribably nightmare-like effect; and 
what can be said for it, from the point of view either of art 
or of religion, I, for my part, cannot conceive. Who the fig- 
ures represent I am not sure; they may be giuirdians of the 



temple, they may be Gandharvas, they may be Siva himself. 
I forgot to mention that, to the best of my belief, they have 
either four or six arms apiece; at least, if these particular 
figures have not, they strangely depart from the usual type. 
It may seem odd that my memory should be uncertain on 
such a point ; but where all is monstrous, a few extra arms 
or heads are mere details that easily escape attention. And 
here, assuredly, all was monstrous, from the general con- 
ception of the gateway to the smallest subsidiary figure. 
I had seen fragments of such monstrosity before, in museums 
such as that of Mexico City, where are preserved the relics 
of extinct barbarisms. But to come face to face with it 
on so enormous a scale — not fragmentarj', not under a 
glass case, but towering under the open sk}', an adjunct to 
a living cult, a "going concern" — this was an experience 
which positively took my breath away.* Does it show gross 
ignorance on my part that I should have come upon it 
unprepared? Was the reader, by chance, better informed.'' 
There are thousands of Europeans in India itself who know 
nothing of the wonder and the horror of these great temples 
of the South. 

Yes, the horror — that is the only word for it. I do not 
mean that nowadays any particular horrors are perpetrated 
in the grim recesses of these giant fanes. I do not know 
that at any time they were the scenes of great cruelty or 
other abominations, though certainly they present the com- 
pletest mise-en-scene for such excesses, t What I do know 

* Pierre Loti calls these gopiiras "pyramids of gods," and says: "The 
inconceivable abuse of detail is as disquieting as the excessive mass. 
All that one imagined one knew, all that fairy-plays and spectacles 
had tried to reproduce, is amazingly surpassed." 

•fSir Alfred Lyall writes in his Asiatic Studies, Vol. I. (1883): "The 
more cruel and indecent rites of Brahmanism have hitherto owed their 
reformation principally to ordinances of the English police, who have 
suppressed suicide, self-mutilation, and other unsightly or immodest 



is that, from the corner-stone to tlie coping of the highest 
gopura, they are the product of gloom}', perverted, mor- 
bidly overwrought imaginations, revelling in the most 
extravagant features of the most monstrous of all myth- 
ologies. This temple of Madura is by no means the oldest 
of its kind: it dates, for the most part, from the sixteenth 
and seventeenth centuries. It is not the largest, though to 
make its" circuit you have to walk a good mile. But it 
easily surpasses the others I have seen — Trichinopoly and 
Tan j ore — in its labjTinthine gloom. As you pass along 
its lofty corridors, between monolith granite pillars car\-ed 
into all sorts of fantastic sliapcs, a'ou can readily imagine 
yourself in Nineveh or Babylon three thousand years ago. 
And on every hand, in its swarming courts and alcoves, 
you see the lowest fetichism intent on its grovelling rites. 
Here is a huge elephant-headed idol — Ganesh, the God of 
Luck — shining as though freshly black-leaded, because his 
devotees keep him constantly anointed with gliee (clarified 
butter) and other unguents. Yonder is a band of women 
decking with flowers the llngam, an emblem of procreation, 
known, indeed, to most primitive cults, but surviving un- 
abashed (so far as I am aware) in India alone. In the 
sacred water of a great green tank, surrounded with colon- 
nades (the one feature of the temple which can by any 
stretch of language be called beautiful) men and women 

spectacles. . . . Our police drag people from under Jagannath's car, 
and fine the whole township if a man kills or mutilates himself. Human 
sacrifices arc still perpetrated under the cloaks of mysterious, unaccount- 
able murders." Here the writer is probably thinking of sacrifices to 
obscure deities of the village or the jungle. I have heard nothing to 
connect the great temples of Southern India with any such practices. 
But one cannot but wonder how much the police knows of what goes 
on in the dark penetralia of these labyrinths of stone, jealously guarded 
against intrusion on the part of low-caste or casteless persons, whether 
Indian or European. 



are washing away their sins: but where is the fire-hose that 
ought to be turned on them to wash away the filth of the 
sacred tank? In the neighbourhood of the Holy of Holies, 
a half-naked group of shaven-headed Brahmins are squat- 
ting on the ground, twining the thread that marks their 
"twice-born" caste, and discussing (let us hope) some of 
those metaphysical mysteries that are believed to underlie 
the "allegories" of Hinduism. Not far off, a long wall is 
covered with miniature frescoes, old and new, childish in 
drawing, crude in colour, illustrating various grotesque and 
horrible, but doubtless edifying, legends. The only one I 
remember depicted the impaling of certain Jain heretics. 
I did not know before what "impaling" meant, and the 
reader will do wisely not to inquire. That there were any 
actual obscenities in the frescoes I cannot aver; but the 
car\'ing of several of the pillars represented unspeakable 
aberrations of sensual imagery, which the guide pointed out 
with modest satisfaction.* The atmosphere of the whole 
vast building was heavy with the emanations of cows, the 
scent of camphor, and the sickly smell of decaying marigolds 
and other flowers. For it is the dominant characteristic of 
Hinduism, not in the South alone, that whatever it touches 
it soils. Flowers enter largely into its ritual, but I have 
never seen them used with the smallest sense of beauty. 
Generally, as here at Madura, they are left rotting around, 
bedraggled and faded, like torn bouquets on an ash-heap. f 

* These carvings were, no doubt, some three centuries old ; but in 
another temple of the South I saw a quite new Jagannath Car, still under 
the hands of the artist, one panel at least of which represented a revolt- 
ing obscenity. 

t Lest it be thought that I have achieved the impossible and ex- 
aggerated the hugeness and the squalor of the temple at Madura, I 
append a page from Pierre Lx)ti's masterly description of it: "I have 
to give up all attempt to keep track of the ways by which the priests 
guide me through the labyrinth of vaults. The further we advance, the 
more does everything seem to me overwhelming and superhuman. Every- 


As I walked along one of the outer corridors, I heard a 
curious rapid shuffling behind me. Thinking that a beggar 
with loose sandals was following at my heels, I turned round 
to send him away, when, behold! I stood face to face with 
a giant elephant, swaying his gorgeousl}- painted trunk 
almost over my head. I looked with respect upon the mighty 
brute. He seemed to me the most dignified, the most sane, 
the most wholesome among all the denizens of the temple — 
and certainly not the worst theologian. 

Then I took a gharry and drove, past a wonderful 
banyan-tree that might have sheltered an army, to a really 
beautiful square tank with an island fane in its middle. 
Under some trees on the farther shore, stood a little yellow 
temple. It consisted of a shadowy cella, wherein a figure of 
the goddess Kali was dimly visible, and a long narrow 
portico, the roof of which was crowded with rude plaster 
figures — votive offerings, I conceive. But these are not the 
offerings in which Kali or Durga cliiefly delights. In front 
of the portico stood an altar, and the earth around it was 
sodden with blood. Four newly severed heads of kids lay 
at the altar foot ; and as I stood there a burly Brahmin 
caught one of several live kids that were skipping around, 

thing is constructed of more and more enormous l)locks. Tlie gods 
with a score of arms, the gods of colossal and manifold gestures, swarm 
in the gloom. ... I move, as if in a dream, through the realm of giants 
and hobgoblins. . . . The sculptures grow ever more prodigious, the mag- 
nificence ever greater, and at the same time there is more of bar- 
barous slovenliness, more of filth. . . . Here is a gallery consei-rated 
to Ganesh, the elephant-headed god, wlinse monstrous person is lighted 
from below by some smoky rushlights burning at his feet, underneath 
his trunk. Here, again, in a sinister recess, as dark as night, is a lazy 
family of zebu-cows. . . . One slips about in their dung with which 
the pavement is littered; but no one would dare to throw it out as 
an unclean thing, for whatever proceeds from their entrails is as sacred 
as they are themselves. And every moment great broad-winged bats 
flap about in alarm above our heads." 



douched it with water from a brass pot, threw it down, 
placed his foot on its head, and gashed its throat with a 
knife. Then he turned back the head so as to make the 
muscles of the throat tense and, with another slash, com- 
pleted the decapitation. It was quickly and skilfully done. 
Far worse cruelties are perpetrated, I daresay, in slaughter- 
houses ; infinitely worse on battlefields. But it was the first 
time I had seen innocent blood shed in the name of religion ; 
and I drove back to Madura radically revising the illusion, 
to which I had well-nigh yielded in Colombo, only forty- 
eight hours before, of the racial superiority of the Oriental. 
My present feeling was very like that of the hero of Locksley 

"For I hold the grey barbarian lower than the Christian child." 

Barbarian, barbarism, barbarous — I am son-y to harp 
so much on these words. But they express the essence of 
the situation. The potentially noble peoples of India have, 
by an age-old concatenation of inauspicious circumstances, 
been baulked of adequate opportunity of development, and 
arrested in a condition of barbarism. There are, of course, 
many thousands of individuals who have risen and are rising 
above it; but the plain truth concerning the mass of the 
population — and not the poorer classes alone — is that they 
are 7iot civilized people. The tokens of barbarism in man- 
ners and religion on which I have been dwelling are, indeed, 
superficial. They might conceivably cover, if not a 
highly developed, at least a healthy and progressive social 
state. But it need scarcely be said that this is not the case : 
even the strange Europeans who are attracted by Hinduism 
as a religion are but half-hearted in their defence of the 
social institutions associated with it. The more we look into 
it, the more clearly do we realize that these institutions have 
spelt disaster for the peoples of India. 


No intelliyx'iit Hindu would contest this statement, though 
many, if not all, would contend for a soul of goodness in 
Hinduism. Perhaps they are right. At all events they 
are probably wise in attempting to base their efforts at 
reform on the conservation of whatever elements of good 
they can find in the national traditions. These reforming 
movements are in many ways admirable and deserving of 
all sympathy; but the task before them is disheai-teningly 
huge. It seems to me manifest beyond all argument that 
India must at least be well advanced towards social salva- 
tion before she can dream of attaining a stable political 
organization, unbuttressed from without. If circumstances 
enabled her to throw off British rule before the leaven of 
social reform had thoroughly permeated her system, she 
would simply add a crowning calamity to the long series of 
which her history consists. Another recent observer, not 
to be suspected of British bias,* has noted in the following 
terms the contrast between racial potentialities and actual 
development, which I have been trying to illustrate in the 
present chapter: 

"Some of these dark people," he writes, "li.ive the faces and 
the port and carriage of power; but it is hollow, the shadow of an 
inheritance, not the real substance. It is as though the masks of 
warriors and sages were walking about untenanted. The char- 
acter and power have become exhausted, leaving the husk of a 
great civilization gone to seed." 

This is a picturesque image, but, in my view, scarcely 
a just one. There never was a "great civilization" in 
India; but there must have been, in tlie epic ages, a splendid 
barbarism. In the course of hapless centuries, it sank into 
the Hinduism we see to-day; but the survival in so large a 

* Price Collier: The West in the East, from an American point of vieic, 
p. 332. 


measure of the noble physical characteristics of the race 
warrants the hope that the development, arrested so many 
ages ago, may be successfully resumed, and, once fairly 
under way, ma^' proceed with great rapidity. That is an 
optimistic view; but there are moments when one can hold 
to it without too much eiFort. 




It is the fashion to preface all accounts of India with 
the statement that it is not one country but a "sub- 
continent," and to enlarge upon the diversities of race and 
language contained within its boundaries. We are told, for 
instance, that the people of India speak one hundred and 
forty-seven idioms, reducible to fifty clearly different lan- 
guages, which, again, belong to twelve families or types. 
The Abbe Dubois, though his travels did not extend beyond 
the southern third of the country, tells us that "A careful 
observer would see less resemblance between a Tamil and a 
Canarese, between a Telugu and a Maratha, than between a 
Frenchman and an Englishman, an Italian and a German." 
It would indeed be a very careless obser\^er who should fail 
to note the difference between the Bengali and the Baluch 
of Sind, the Madrasi and the Rajput. 

The implied and often exphcit deduction from these facts 
is that India is incapable of unity unless it be imposed on 
her from without. But this is a dogma wliich demands 
careful scrutiny. 

To the naked eye, so to speak, examining the map of 
the world, India seems rather conspicuously a geographical 
unit. She holds in Asia a position curiously analogous to 
that of Italy in Europe: she is the midmost of three south- 
ward-stretching peninsulas; she has a great island attached 
to her toe; and her northern river-plains are bastioned by 
a gigantic mountain range, the highest in the continent. 
We now hold Italy beyond all question a natural unit; but 



little more than half a century ago, tlicorists were declaring 
that she could never be one; that her people were a hotch- 
potch of invading races ; that the Neapolitan could not 
understand the Venetian, the Calabrian the Piedmontcse ; 
and that local jealousies would alwaj's frustrate the purely 
factitious aspiration towards unit}'. Events have shown 
that the centripetal forces were immensely' stronger than 
the centrifugal, and that geographical unity meant much 
more than the theorists were willing to allow. May it not 
prove so in India as well.'* 

"Encircled as she is by seas and mountains," writes 
Mr. Vincent A. Smith, "India is indisputably a geographical 
unit, and, as such, is rightly designated by one name. Her 
type of civilization, too, has many features which differen- 
tiate it from that of all other regions of the world, while 
they are common to the whole country, or rather continent, 
in a degree sufficient to justify its treatment as a unit in 
the histoi-y of the social, religious and intellectual develop- 
ment of mankind." 

Sir Alfred Lyall writes to the same effect: "Although 
the Indians are broken up into diversities of race and lan- 
guage, they are as a whole not less distinctly marked off 
from the rest of Asia by certain material and moral char- 
acteristics, than their country is by the mountains and the 
sea. The component parts of that great country hang 
together, physically and politically; there is no more room 
for two irreconcilable systems of government than in Persia, 
China or Asiatic Turke3\" Sir Alfred is here accounting 
for the failure of England's perfectly sincere and repeated 
efforts to check the spread of her dominion over the whole 
geographical area — to lay down for her proconsuls a "thus 
far and no further." But from the fact that India could 
never be at peace save under one rule, it does not necessarily 
follow that that rule must forever be a foreign one. 


I am disposed to tliink — though on this point the his- 
torians give us no very clear guidance — that India's chief 
misfortune may be found to have lain in the very fact 
of her indisputable unity, coupled with her huge and 
unwieldy size. Every potentate, native or foreign, who 
achieved a certain measure of strength within her borders, 
was irresistibly tempted to extend his sway over the whole 
area. Owing to the lack of strong natural frontiers, he 
might find no groat difficulty in nominally subduing a vast 
extent of country ; but "effective occupation" was a different 
matter; and still more impossible was permanent organ- 
ization under one central control. Thus empires rose and 
fell to pieces again Hke waves in a tumbling sea. There 
was no political rest or stability; and men, unable to attain 
an}' national cohesion or organization, fell back upon that 
caste cohesion which has proved so disastrous to healthy 

It might have been a great deal better for India if her 
geographical unit}' had not been so incontestable — if she 
had been broken up into clearl3'-marked states of manage- 
able size, within whose natural frontiers nations might 
gradually have differentiated, while they defended with 
patriotic spirit their own territory and institutions. As 
it is, this region, as large as all Europe minus Russia, has 
no predestinate and easily defensible internal partitions. 
Rivers are nowhere a good frontier, and least of all in India, 
where so many of them dwindle in the dry season into a 
mere trickle from pool to pool. The Vindhya mountains, 
though tliey clearly mark off the Indo-Gangetic plain from 
the southern table-land, are not comparable, as a strategic 
frontier, to the Alps or the Pyrenees ; and the hills of 
Rajputana, the fantastic outcrops of the Deccan, rarely 
encompass what may be called definite and convenient king- 
doms. They make fine fortresses, but poor barriers. The 



strips of coast country east and west of the Ghats are too 
narrow to form strong pohtical units. We see, as a matter 
of fact, that the districts into which India was divided 
before the British rule, were always vague and fluctuating. 
Many of the names were purely regional, with no distinct 
political significance — such as the Malabar coast, the Coro- 
mandel coast, the Deccan, even the Punjab. Rajputana was 
parcelled out among clans whose frontiers were, for the most 
part, arbitrary and unsettled. Many of the existing 
provinces and native states were administrative divisions 
of the Moghul Empire, with about as much geographical 
individuality as may be claimed for Norfolk, Suffolk and 
Essex. It is true that when Lord Curzon, presuming upon 
the fluctuating quaUty of India's internal frontiers, decreed 
the partition of Bengal, he raised a hornets' nest about his 
ears ; but that was the outcome of a new spirit with which 
he declined to reckon, begotten of British rule. As Sir 
Thomas Holderness observes : "An Indian province is not 
what we mean by a nation, though it tends to create a 
provincial spirit which is not far removed from national 

It is a little difficult to see why, with this absence of 
natural frontiers and feeble development of national life, 
there should be such great diversity of language in India. 
That the Aryan languages should fail to oust the Dravidian 
and other aboriginal tongues is comprehensible enough; but 
why did the Aryan speech itself break up into so many 
widely different idioms .'' Why is there one language in Russia, 
one language (even though its dialects diff"er widely) in 
China, and more than two score distinct languages in India? 
I do not know that this striking difference has ever been 

But the tragic paradox of India's fate is this: she is 
unified by that which at the same time divides and en- 


feebles her. Over all her kindreds, peoples, tribes and 
tongues, except a few lingering savages in her mountains 
and a few emancipated folk in her modem cities, the great 
institution of Caste holds sway, and has done so from time 
almost (though not quite) immemorial. Even the Muham- 
madans, whose religion is theoretically equalitarian, have 
caught from Hinduism the contagion of caste; as the 
Hindus, whose religion does not require the seclusion of 
women, have been confirmed by Islam in the purdah habit. 
Hapless, indeed, is the country which instinctively fastens 
upon whatever is worst in its contending religions, and 
makes it a rule of life. 

This is not the place to discuss the merits and demerits 
of caste. I merely point out that an institution which 
nowhere else in the world exists in anything like the same 
form, has ruled for something like three thousand years 
throughout the length and breadth of India. It sprang, 
perhaps, as above suggested, from the absence of national 
life; and, once established, it effectually barred the develop- 
ment of national life. Not countr}', but caste, was, and in 
great measure still is, the object of loyalty. Under the 
dominance of caste, every community is divided against 
itself. The very idea of a common-weal is excluded where 
one social stratum would disdain to have anything, whether 
weal or woe, in common with another. Therefore, as a 
patriotic Indian writer * points out, the vernaculars of India 
possess "no single simple word" to express the idea of 
patriotism. "One result of contact with the Occident has 
been the development of this feeling," so that "the dialects 
now possess specially coined terms for it." Caste, then, goes 
far to explain India's lack of political cohesion and power 
of resistance to foreign conquest. Nevertheless, even a 
common vice forms, in its way, a bond of union. Caste is a 

* Snint Nihnl Singh in tlie Ilindiistan Reriftr. DoormlHT, lOIJ. 



vice which affects India, all India and — in its extreme 
development — nothing but India. Its tjranny will have to 
be broken before India can become a nation among other 
modem nations ; but the very struggle against it, affecting 
as it does all regions and all classes, is the mark of a real, 
indefeasible unity. When caste is nothing but a memory, 
it will be a memory common to all India, in which the rest 
of the world will have no share. 

So, too, with religion, of which, indeed, caste is little 
more than an offshoot. It is true that there are two re- 
ligions in India, and that their antagonism is supposed to 
have promoted in the past, and to facilitate in the present, 
the rule of a foreign race. Some people wUl even tell you 
that relations between the two bodies are becoming more 
and more embittered, and that any real community of 
thought or action between them is out of the question. 
"An individual cat may get on with an indi\adual dog," a 
high official said to me, "but the race of cats and the race 
of dogs will never get on together." I do not pretend to 
decide whether tliis gentleman saw deeper into the essence 
of the existing situation than the numerous Hindus and 
Muhammadans who are labouring to improve the relations 
between their communities ; but I believe that when the 
time is ripe for Indian self-government, Hindus and Mu- 
hammadans will find some means of adjusting their differ- 
ences more dignified than querulous appeals to the British 
sirkar. Is it not partly because both are, so to speak, 
suitors before an external judgment-seat that each is so 
determined not to let the other over-reach him? 

In any case, the presence of Islam in India scarcely 
lightens the enormous unifj^ing pressure of Hinduism. An 
emanation from the sacred soil of Aryavarta, it has ab- 
sorbed all previous cults, and has constituted, from the be- 
ginning of recorded time, the whole mental atmosphere of 


an overwhelming majority of the population. If we include 
some 3,000,000 Sikiis, 1,250,000 Jains, and about 250,000 
members of the Arya and Brahmo reforming sects, the 
Hindus of to-day number nearly 222,000,000, as against 
something less than 67,000,000 Mussulmans. And the pre- 
dominance of Hinduism is by no means expressed in these 
numbers. Millions of the Mussulmans are extremely igno- 
rant of their own religion and enormously influenced by sur- 
rounding Hinduism. To many adherents of each creed, in 
fact, the onl}^ salient and tangible difference between them 
lies in the circumstance that the one holds cows sacred and 
the other does not. Again, the educated Mussuhnan does 
not withhold his admiration from the religious, philosopliic 
and epic literature of the Hindus. He takes pride in it as 
the literature of India: just as the educated Hindu reckons 
the Taj and Fatehpur Sikri among the glories, not of Mus- 
lim, but of Indian architecture. In short, the fact that 
India has in Hinduism an indigenous and extremely ancient 
religion, absolutely peculiar to herself, is in no way cancelled 
by the fact that about a quarter of the population have, in 
comparatively recent centuries, l>ccomc dissenters from it. 
Hinduism is, and will remain, a mighty bond of union. There 
is nothing local or parochial in its spirit. "To the Hindu of 
all provinces, his Motherland is the seat of holiness, the 
chosen home of righteousness, the land of the seven sacred 
rivers, 'the place to which, sooner or later, must come all 
souls in quest of God.' " 

After my account of the temple at IMadura and of the 
sacrifice to Kah, I shall scarcely be suspected of an ex- 
aggerated esteem for Hindu ritual. In another chapter, I 
shall have to go further and confess to the gravest doubts 
as to the supreme value of Hindu philosophy, and, in 
general, as to the spiritual genius which Hindus arc fond 
of claiming for themselves, and wliitii we Westerners, I 



cannot help thinking, too lightly admit. Still more herct- 
ically, perhaps, I shall have to inquire whether the great 
epics, the Mahabharata and the Ramayana, are, in fact, 
wholesome mental sustenance for a people which aspires 
to play an independent part in the drama of the future, 
upon the stage of the real world. But whatever may be 
our private doubts as to the value of Indian literature, 
especially in relation to the problems of the coming age, 
there is not the least question that India does possess a 
literature of immense historic interest, to which many great 
scholars, and some great critics, have assigned a very high 
rank among the literatures of the world. We are assured, 
too, that the influence of this literature has filtered down 
through the whole mass of the people — that the most il- 
literate, fetish-worshipping peasant is conversant with lofty 
spiritual ideas, and (more credibly) that he is familiar with 
the doughty deeds of the Pandus, and with the romantic 
fortunes of Rama and SIta. As to the depth of his meta- 
physics I remain unconvinced ; but there is no doubt that all 
Indians are conscious of having behind them a great re- 
ligious and legendary — or, as they think, historic — litera- 
ture. To the Brahmins has been confided the care of the 
spiritual treasures left behind by their forefathers, while the 
loves and exploits of the national heroes have, in one form or 
another, become common property. The unifying influence 
of this living literary tradition must be apparent ; and it 
cannot be supposed that even low-class Muhammadans re- 
main quite outside it. Many of those who, in the Mohurrum, 
rend the air with their frenzied shouts of "Ya Hasan ! Ya 
Hosein!" are perhaps, in reality, more intimate with Arjuna 
and Krishna than with the saints of their own religion. 

We see, as a matter of historic fact, that no outside 
influence is needed to make the two religions pull fairly 
well together. The horrors of Muslim conquest and the 


persecutions of Aurungzebe are things of the remote past. 
Before we established ourselves in India, Muhammadan 
princes ruled over Hindu subjects, and Hindu princes over 
Muhammadan subjects, with very tolerable impartiality of 
rule or misrule. And the same is true in the native states 
of to-day, not merely as a result of British overlordsliip. 
At no time since the days of Aurungzeb has either religion 
seriously tried to overpower and cast out the other. The 
attempt, supposing it possible, would have been too mani- 
festly ruinous and suicidal. That there should be friction 
and occasional rioting between Hindu and Muliammadan is 
only natural. We have seen ignorant fanaticism lead to re- 
ligious faction-fights nearer home. Nor is there anything 
surprising in the bitter squabbles of the two creeds over the 
loaves and fishes of government employ. The greater sup- 
pleness and (as a rule) the better education of the Hindu, 
to say nothing of his numerical supcriorit}', give him an 
advantage which is naturally galling to the Muhammadan; 
while in every preference shown to the Muhammadan, the 
Hindu is apt to find confirmation of his belief that the great 
maxim of British statecraft is "divide and rule." That this 
maxim has any conscious weight in our councils I do not 
believe. The difficulty of holding the balance between the 
two persuasions is no fault of ours, and I believe we try to 
hold it true without any ulterior motive. But when British 
officials, undreaming of any other ideal than the perpetuity 
of the raj, assure us that "cat and dog will never get on 
together," I would not swear but that tlic wish may be father 
to the thought. 

Cat and dog got on well enough together in 1857. It was 
not any religious dissension that saved the sahibs from 
being driven into the sea. 

In one regard, however, it must be admitted that England 
has in effect, though not in outward form, adopted the 



principle of "divide and rule." In her policy of maintaining 
nearly four score native states * under her suzerainty, she 
has, not exactly divided, but deliberately abstained from 
unifying. The rulers of these principalities, large and 
small, are, as a whole, genuinely loyal to the Empire, and 
sincerely opposed to any idea of self-government. They see 
in British rule (quite justly) a conservative force, and they 
dread and shrink from the New India, unknown, untried, and 
to them unimaginable, which is germinating in the brains 
of political agitators. In a double sense, then, the native 
states are bulwarks of the Empire. They not only 
strengthen it in the present, but they make it difficult to con- 
ceive the place they are to occupy in any non-autocratic 
organization of the future. Nor do they render it possible 
to dream of a national autocracy, an Indian Empire under 
an Indian Emperor. Not one of them is, either in historic 
prestige or in actual wealth and power, sufficiently predomi- 
nant to afford a rallying-point for any aspirations of this 
order; and, in fact, no such aspirations exist. There are 
no Indian Jacobites or Carlists. It is conceivable, no doubt, 
that a United India might choose to call itself an Empire, 
and might enthrone as Emperor one of its princes. But if 
so, it would be by reason of some personal merit or pre- 
ponderance, not of any revival of historic loyalty. 

If England had incorporated all the native states with 
her own immediate dominions, she would have enormously 
facilitated the movement towards national unity. The 
mingling of moderation and astuteness which prevented her 
from doing so will probably prolong her rule in India, 
and that, very likely, to the great ultimate benefit of the 
country. The chief danger which India has to fear is the 
premature dissolution of her dependence on Britain. But 

* Their area is over 700,000 square miles, their population over 70,000,- 


the obstacle of the native states cannot for ever bar the 
way to unity. Times change and even maharajtis change 
with them. It was a maharaja, who, speaking to Mr. Price 
Collier, "hinted at a federation of states under a central 

To sum up the argument of the present chapter: India 
is one of the most clearly-marked geographical units in 
the world. Nature could scarcely have individuaUzed her 
better if, instead of a half-island, she had made her a whole- 
island. There is, indeed, much diversity of race and lan- 
guage within her bounds, but that has not hindered a very 
marked unity of cult and custom. AH Indians have been 
Indians, and as such, definitely related to each other and 
distinguished from the rest of the world, for a much longer 
time than Englishmen have been English, Frenchmen French, 
or Germans German. The numerous attempts to translate 
into terms of political organization the geographical unity 
of the country have hitherto failed disastrously, for the 
simple reason that the country was too huge. In the days 
when there were few roads and no railways, it was impossible 
for a central power to hold its lieutenants in control, and 
an empire was no sooner formed than it began to disin- 
tegrate. But roads, railroads and telegraphs have changed 
all that. The British rule, bringing these things with it,* 
reduced India to a manageable size. It has made unity a 

* Indian malcontents are apt to resent such statements as this, on the 
ground that India would no doubt have had railroads and telegraphs 
even if British rule had never existed. That is true: European capital 
would no doubt have rushed in to some extent, whatever had been the 
political conditions of the coimtry. But the spread of these material 
adjuncts and forerunners of civilization has been enormously facilitated 
by the unity and peace of the country; and unity and peace it would 
certainly not have had except under British, or some other external, 
rule. And undoubtedly the necessary capital has been obtained at a 
far cheaper rate than would have been possible under other political 



political as well as a geographical and spiritual fact, and it 
has thereby begotten a sentiment of unity which it is folly 
to ridicule as factitious or denounce as seditious. Why 
should we dream that three hundred millions of people who 
are, in the main, able-bodied, and whom we are honestly, if 
not too efficiently, striving to render able-minded, should go 
on to the end of time "obeying orders given in a foreign 
accent?" Why stake our national prestige on achieving so 
undesirable a miracle? Especially when our national glory 
so obviously lies in the opposite direction — in the building 
up of a united, self-controlled, virile and responsible India. 




The common task which English and Indians liave before 
them — that of bringing India into line in the march of 
civilization — will not be facilitated bj false ideals on either 
side. And the Indian is at least as liable to them as the 

The Abbe Dubois, a Catholic missionary who spent the 
best part of his life in the most intimate contact with the 
peoples of Southern India — who adopted their dress, spoke 
their languages, and came to be accepted by them almost 
as one of themselves — wrote of them nearly a century ago 
as "a vain and self-sufficient people, filled with the idea of 
their own moral ascendancy." This is plain speaking, but 
there is a great deal of justice in it even to-day. Indeed, if 
the worthy Abbe had said "moral and intellectual ascend- 
ancy," he would not have been far wrong. Until Hindu 
patriotism is dissociated from irrational arrogance, and as- 
sociated with rational liumility, the advance of the mass of 
the people towards self-respecting intelligence must inevi- 
tably be slow. 

I do not say that the same remark is not justly applicable 
to many other people nearer home. That is not the ques- 
tion : two blacks do not make one white. Nor do I say 
that the reproach applies to all Indians. On the contrary, 
the leading intelligences of the country prove tiieir claim 
to that position by seeing things in juster proportions. But 
the general tendency is to regard India as a sort of divinity 



under a cloud: a heaven-born paragon of genius, valour, 
piety and learning, who has only to cast off an evil spell 
in order to shine forth in the eyes of all the world, resplend- 
ent, incomparable, the saviour of the human species. Now 
the evil spell is real enough: another name for it is the 
history of India. The illusion lies in supposing that the 
races which have undergone that spell were in any way 
specially favoured at the outset, and that the ban can be 
lifted in any other way than by a patient and resolute 
struggle gradually to undo its effects. 

It cannot be said that India is self-hypnotized into this 
illusion. I have already given one or two specimens of the 
flatteries — or if that word begs the question, let us say 
eulogies — which have been heaped upon her by Western 
writers. These eulogies may be rouglily divided into two 
classes : those of scholars whose painfully-acquired knowl- 
edge of Sanskrit Uterature naturally inclines them to make 
the most of a treasure which has cost them so much; and 
those of a recent school of enthusiasts who find in the 
arcana of Hinduism the basis of certain esoteric doctrines 
which they believe to be the ultimate truths of religion. 
Of neither group of eulogists would I be understood to speak 
with disrespect. Certainly not of the latter group: I be- 
lieve that its leader, Mrs. Annie Besant, has done much 
good in India, and I know that she has uttered a great deal 
of sound sense on education and other topics. But when it 
comes to making India the birthplace and home, not only 
of all spirituaUty, but of all science, I can no longer follow 
either the learned or the illuminated. 

Listen to the late Colonel H. S. Olcott, lecturing at 
Amritsar in 1880 on India, Past, Present and Future. After 
claiming for the Aryans "a system of telegraphy without 
either poles, wires or pots of chemicals" — in other words, a 
probable enough knowledge of telepathy — ^he proceeded : 


"And then tlie Aryans — if we may believe that good man the 
late Bramaeliari Bawa — knew a branch of science (^Viman Vidya) 
about which the West is now speculating much, but has learnt 
next to notliing. They could navigate the air, and not only navi- 
gate but fight battles in it, like so many war eagles combating for 
the dominion of the clouds. To be perfect in aeronautics, as he 
justly says, they must have known all the arts and sciences re- 
lated to that science, including the strata and currents of the at- 
mosphere, their relative temperature, humidity and density, and 
the specific gravity of the various gases. At the Mayasabha, de- 
scribed in the Bharata, he tells us, were microscopes, telescopes, 
clocks, watches, mechanical singing birds, and articulating and 
speaking animals. The Ashta Vidya — a science of which our 
modern professors have not even an inkling — enabled its pro- 
ficients completely to destroy an invading army by enveloping it 
in an atmosphere of poisonous gases, filled with awe-striking 
shadowy shapes, and with awful sounds." 

The late Bramaeliari Bawa, one imagines, must have been 
a spiritual kinsman — possibly a former incarnation — of Mr. 
H. G. Wells. If the proficients of the Ashta Vidya had in- 
deed at their command tliis short and easy method of 
dealing with invading armies, it seems a pity that they were 
so chary of exercising it — there was ample 0])portunity in 
Indian history. 

Colonel Olcott, it may be said, was a well-known visionary, 
credulous of all marvels. But similar credulity is by no 
means uncommon in India. "I have known an educated 
Indian," says Professor Oman, "to maintain with niucii 
warmth that in the Golden Age the rishis and others were 
well acquainted with the art of aerial navigation, and prob- 
ably with other rapitl modes of locomotion unknown to us 
moderns. I iiave heard him assert boldly that even the tele- 
phone, microphone and phonograph were known to the 
Hindu sages, up to the time when the sciences and arts of 



the ancient world perished ... on the fatal field of Kuruk- 
shetra." Some maintain that the art of constructing aero- 
planes, and other marvels of applied science, was deliberately 
withdrawn from human ken by the rishis — a mysterious race 
of semi-divine sages — because they held them inappropriate 
to a dark age {Kali Yuga) which they saw to be impending 
over the world. Why did they not apply their stupendous 
powers to averting the dark age, instead of giving us the 
trouble of conquering Nature all over again ? 

On such insanities, however, it is profitless to dwell. The 
glory which is claimed for India by serious Western thinkers 
— in words re-echoed a thousandfold by Indians themselves 
— is that of high spirituality, a unique genius for grasping 
and expounding the realities behind the phenomenal world, 
and the innermost meanings of life. 

One finds traces of this idea in the most unexpected quar- 
ters. I have heard a British civilian, high in place and rich 
in experience, say that in the daily work of administration 
and legislation he often had to deal with Indians of greater 
intellectual capacity than his own ; and on inquiring into his 
reasons for so esteeming them, I have found it to lie mainly 
in the fact that they were familiar with regions of thought 
which were to him untrodden ground, and ground, moreover, 
on which his robust practical intellect could find no foothold. 
Now it is probable enough that he did, as a matter of fact, 
have to meet, in discussion, "foemen worthy of his steel" — 
perhaps quicker and suppler-minded than he. But I con- 
tested, and stUl contest, his assumption that familiarity with 
metaphysical conceptions — perhaps even the power of argu- 
ing with some subtlety on metaphysical points — is neces- 
sarily a proof of great mental capacity. I am sceptical of 
the value of thought in a region where there is no possible 
test of values. 

Another proof of the widespread acceptance of India's 


claim to supreme rcligio-philosophic genius may be found in 
a very judicious book by a highly qualified student and 
observer of Indian affairs — The Economic Transition in 
India, by Sir Theodore Morison. The very last words of 
that book are these: "We can only hope that India may 
be warned in time by the example of Europe, and that her 
industrial revolution may not be disfigured by the reckless 
waste of human life and human happiness which has stained 
the annals of European industry. Most of all must we wish 
that, in the fierce struggle for material wealth, she may not 
lose the lofty idealism by which she has hitherto been so 
nobly distinguished." 

What is this "idealism?" What is its meaning.'' What 
does it amount to.'' These are questions to which I have been 
unable to find a very satisfactory answer. 

The extraordinary interest of the early religio-philosophic 
literature of India is beyond all doubt. Beginning with the 
four Vedas (hymns, invocations and magical formulas) it 
proceeds through the Brahmanas (ritual prescriptions) and 
the Aranyakas (literally "jungle books," for the use of 
anchorites) to the Upanishads or philosophical treatises, 
explaining, allegorizing or supplementing the primitive 
nature-worship of the Vcdic hymns. The meaning of the 
word "Upanishad" is much disputed, but Deussen interprets 
it as "secret word" or "secret text." The Upanishads, or 
their doctrines, are sometimes termed the Vedanta — the end 
or consummation of the Vedas.* 

Everyone admits that as documents in the liistory of the 
human spirit the Vedas are invaluable. They can be dated 
only within very wide limits ; their text is thought to have 
been much "worked over," and is so obscure as to lend itself 
to ludicrous divergences of interpretation; but, after all 

* I trust there is no gross error in this parflgraph; hut very confusing 
explanations are given of even the nomenclature of this literature. 



deductions, they remain, I take it, the earliest religious out- 
pourings that have assumed anything like literary form. 
Some of the hymns are said to be beautiful ; a few certainly 
show a gift of philosophic penetration, rare among primitive 
peoples. I shall quote in a later chapter an utterance of a 
sort of agnosticism, very striking in a work of such early 
date. But to place the Vedas as a whole on the summits 
of literature is to confuse historic with ssthetic and spiritual 
values. It has been well said that "two classes of persons 
entertain the most exalted notions of the Vedas: those who 
know nothing of them, and those who know nothing else." 
Let us hear ]Max Miiller on this point — an authority cer- 
tainly not apt to depreciate the wisdom of the Orient. He 

There have been silly persons who have represented the devel- 
opment of the Indian mind as superior to any other, nay, who 
would make us go back to the Veda, or to the sacred writings of 
the Buddhists, in order to find there a truer religion, a purer 
morality and a more sublime philosophy than our own. . . . That 
the Veda is full of childish, silly, even to our mind monstrous 
conceptions, who would deny? 

And again, in another place: 

The historical importance of the Veda can hardly be exagger- 
ated, but its intrinsic merit, and particularly the beauty or ele- 
vation of its sentiments, have by many been rated far too high. 
Large numbers of the Vedic hymns are childish in the extreme: 
tedious, low, commonplace. . . . The Veda contains a great deal 
of what is childish and foolish, though very little of what is bad 
and objectionable. * Some of its poets ascribe to the gods sen- 

* Here Max Miiller is, of course, thinking of the Rig- Veda, and the 
same remark may probably apply to the Sama and Yajur Vedas, which 
closely follow the Rig- Veda. But of the later Atharva ^'eda we are told 
that it is "full of magical verses, some to remove disease, cause hair to 


timents and passions unworthy of deity, such as anger, revenge, 
delight in material sacrifices; they likewise represent human na- 
ture on a low level of selfishness and worldliness. Many hymns 
are utterly unmeaning and insipid, and we must search patiently 
before we meet, here and there, with sentiments that come from 
the depth of the soul, and with prayers in which we could join 

No one, assuredly, who looks into the translations of the 
Rig^Veda can fail to admire the indomitable industry which 
has sustained scholars in their sti'uggle not only with the 
obscurities but with the extreme tediousness of the greater 
part of the hymns. The Rev. K. S. Macdonald, a mission- 
ary, no doubt, but a very liberal-minded one, writes : 

The same prayers for the gratification of sensual, carnal and 
worldly desires occur so continuously that it is a positive pain to 
read any large number of hymns at a sitting. One becomes sick 
of such praises and prayers, and longs to see men and women go 
about their ordinary occupations. . . . The horizon of the Rishi 
is confined almost invariably to himself. He prays for the happi- 
ness of neither wife nor child, not for the good of his village or 
his clan, nor yet for his nation, or people. He manifests no com- 
mon joys, any more than common sorrows. 

The evidence of high idealism in such literature as this is 
certainly scant. Of the "monstrous conceptions" occurring 
in the Vcdas the following specimen may suffice. In one 
hymn, says Max Miiller: 

Indra is praised for having made Heaven and Earth ; and then, 
when the poet remembers that Heaven and Earth had been 
praised elsewhere as the parents of the gods, and more especially 

prow on bald lu'.uls, and to aliale the nuisance caused by vermin. . . . 
The incredible liltbiness of some of these symbolical and magical rites 
is almost beyond belief, and the first part of the Aitareya-Aranyaka 
rivals the most obscene Tantras of the worshippers of Sliakti" Hurnell, 
p. xxiii. 



as the parents of Indra, he does not hesitate a moment, but says: 
"What poets living before us have reached the end of all thy 
greatness ? for thou hast indeed begotten thy father and thy 
mother together from thy own body." 

"That is a strong measure," Max ^Miiller continues, "and 
a god who could once do that was no doubt capable of any- 
thing afterwards." Already we see at work the tendency to 
monstrous generation- and incarnation-stories that runs 
through all Indian mythology. Yet of the documents 
wherein such mere ravings occur, otherwise sane people are 
actually found to declare that they are "faultless from all 
eternity, evident by themselves, and, as they were revealed, 
unaffected by the shortcomings of human authorship." 

Something will have to be said in a later chapter of the 
"Back to the Vedas" movement, which finds its chief ex- 
pression in the Arya Samaj. But though, in the orthodox 
conception, the seeds of India's spirituality are thought to 
be sown in the Vedas, it is only in the Upanishads that they 
reach their full flower. Now the interest of the Upanishads 
is incontestable. They are, perhaps, the earliest philosoph- 
ical writings in the world; and even if this be not so, they 
are unquestionably original, evolved entirely in the Indian 
mind, not sprung from wandering foreign thought-germs. 
They reveal an extraordinary intensity and ingenuity of 
speculation, a wonderful power of applying to appearances 
the solvent of thought. No one can read Deussen's great 
book on the Upanishads without marvelling at the luxuriance 
of sheer cerebration displayed in the literature he summa- 
rizes. That it proceeded from subtle brains there is no doubt 
whatever. On the other hand, I do not see how any one can 
fail to observe that, on its constructive side, Indian thought 
merely built up a new, and fantastic, and often self-con- 
tradictory, mythology, in which speculative concepts took 


the place of anthropomorpluc deities. This was, indeed, in- 
evitable; it is the process of all metaphysical thought that 
is not merely destructive; but India then fell into the error 
of thinking that it had fathomed the unfathomable, and pre- 
senting speculation in the guise of dogma. Wherever its 
teachings can be tested — as in its cosmology, physiology, 
psychology — they are found to consist of just what one 
would naturally expect, namely, baseless classifications and 
ingenious guesses. Its wildest fancies are often interesting 
and suggestive; for the power to think erroneously is better 
than mere brutish incapacity for thought. It is better to 
let the mind grope in the darkness than to keep it torpid and 
incurious. But to mistake groping for seeing, guessing for 
knowing — that is the very unspiritual habit into which India 
has fallen. 

Whatever may have been the genius of the individual 
thinkers to whom we owe the Upanishads, their dogmatism 
must have had a cramping rather than a stimulating effect 
upon the minds of their disciples. The relation of gwrw 
and chela, still admired by many as the basis of India's intel- 
lectual greatness, is in fact destructive to all criticism and 
therefore to all healthy life. "Since the knowledge of the 
atTnan," says Deussen, summarizing one of his documents, 
"is contrasted with the reality of experience as the realm 
of ignorance, it cannot bo gained by mere speculation 
{tarka) concerning it, but only by a revelation communi- 
cated through the teacher." * This is surely the very reverse 
of a sound doctrine. Teaclxing may, indeed, put the mind 
on the track of pliilosophical realization, may even bring 
it up to the threshold; but the threshold can be crossed 
only by an unteachable act of apprehension, taking place 
in the individual mind. Nevertheless this conception of 

* Deussen, The PhUoaoph;/ of the Upaiihhad^, p. 78. "Atiuan" may 
be roughly rendered as "world-soul." 



truth as something that can be poured mechanically from 
one mind into another lies at the base of Indian philosophic 
teaching. Here is another (later) utterance: "As the 
Purana says, 'Do not apply reason to what is unthinkable! 
The mark of the unthinkable is that it is above all material 
causes.' Therefore the cognition of what is supcrsensuous 
is based on the holy texts only." "The holy texts !" — here 
we touch the heart of the matter. If to look to the past for 
aU wisdom, whether divine or human, be a spiritual tendency, 
then the spirituality of India cannot be contested. But 
neither is it doubtful that her spirituahty, in this sense, has 
been one of her greatest misfortunes. She has also displayed 
an unequalled diligence in thinking about the unthinkable, 
that being an exercise agreeably compatible with physical 
immobility and living upon the alms of the faithful. But of 
what possible value even to the individual himself (to say 
nothing of his fellow-men or his country) is this mechanical 
and morbid rumination of "the holy texts," or of the mj'stic 
syllable "OM," * confessed by Deussen to be "entirely 
meaningless," but "precisely on that account especially fitted 
to be the symbol of Brahman"? May it not fairly be sus- 
pected that this much-vaunted habit of meditation is often 
a cloak for sheer blankness of mind.'' 

The absolute value of India's contribution to metaphysical 
thought is of course a matter on which specialists only can 
give a competent opinion. Several Western philosophers, 
and particularly^ Schopenhauer and Cousin, have spoken 
with warm admiration of the Upanishads ; and the influence 
of these and later speculations is traceable in a good many 
quarters — notably among the New England transcendental- 

*As when we dwell upon a word we know. 
Repeating, till the word we know so well 
Becomes a wonder, and we know not why. 




ists. In fine, there is no difficulty in admitting that indi- 
vidual Indians, some nameless, some known by name, one — 
Gautama Buddha — world-renowned, have played a moi'e or 
less distinguished part in the history of philosophy. But 
between this admission, and the pretension that India as a 
whole — the Indian people — has manifested a unique religio- 
philosopliic genius, there yawns an immeasurable gulf. The 
genius which the Indian people, from the Brahmin caste 
downwards, has displayed to great perfection, is a genius 
for obfuscating reason and foniializing, materializing, de- 
grading religion. 

This may seem a hazardous assertion in the face of a cloud 
of witnesses. But the witnesses themselves may be cited on 
both sides ; and where they advance anything like proof, as 
distinct from the mere repetition of stereotyped formulas, 
it is all on the negative side of the case. Take Mr. Romesh 
Chunder Butt, for example. He assures us, on an early 
page of liis Histori/ of Civilization in Ancient India, that 
"The history of the intellectual and religious life of the 
ancient Hindus is matchless in its continuity, its fullness and 
its philosophical tinith." But a little further on he tells 
us that immediately upon the Vedas followed the Brahmanas, 
"inane and verbose compositions" which "reflect the enerva- 
tion of the people and the dogmatic pretensions of the 
priests ;" and that later, in what he calls the Epic Period 
(B.C. 1400 to 1000?) "the gradual enervation of the Hindus 
was the cause of the most important results in religious 
and social rules. Religion changed its spirit. The manly 
but simple hynnis with which the sturdy conquerors of the 
Punjab had invoked nature-gods scarcely commended them- 
selves to the more effete and more ceremonious Hindus of the 
Gangetic valley." Later, again, in the Pauranik Period 
which followed the expulsion of Buddhism: 



An unhealthy superstition and social system warped the na- 
tional mind and paralysed the national vigour. Worshippers 
were divorced from religious learning, warriors were divided from 
the people, professions and sects were disunited for ever and 
enfeebled. Men were subjected to unmeaning restrictions and 
hurtful rules. Women were encouraged to perish on the pyre. 
A monopoly of knowledge was established, social and religious 
freedom was extinguished, and the lamp of national life was 
quenched with the light of freedom and of knowledge. The 
Hindu who can deservedly boast of the religion of the Upani- 
shads and the ethics of Gautama Buddha, owes it to Truth and 
to History to confess to the degeneracy of later times. 

On tliis candid passage one coninaent seems called for, 
namely, that the ethics of Gautama Buddha were themselves 
a protest against the "degeneracy" of earlier times, and 
that the re\'ival they effected was partial and transitory. 
In talking of the "extinction" of social and religious "free- 
dom" and so forth, Mr. Dutt falls into the inveterate Hindu 
habit of assuming a past Golden Age, for which the evidence 
is of the scantiest. Otherwise the passage is sound enough; 
but what becomes of the "matchless continuity and fullness" 
of the "intellectual and religious life" of the Hindus ? * 

When we look into it closely, we can trace the general 
estimate of Hindu spirituality to two very different sources : 
to what ma}' be called the lower and the higher Hinduism. 
We have on the one hand the spectacle of a people intensely 
devoted to an infinitude of cults and observances which may 
be classed as religious inasmuch as they show a constant 
preoccupation with the supernatural, and belief in its ac- 

* It may be said tliat Mr. Dutt's assertion refers only to the ancient 
Hindus, an expression which might conceivably denote only the Aryans 
of the Vedas. But the context puts this interpretation out of court: 
"ancient" must be understood in its widest sense as simply meaning 
"not modern." 



tivity in ordinary life. On the other hand, we know that 
the thinkers of this same race have evolved certain religio- 
jjhilosophical ideas, of great interest and importance. Put- 
ting these two facts together, people vaguely conclude that 
the religious life of India is at once intimate and exalted — 
that the average Hindu carries into his daily life religious 
conceptions of the liighest order, even if they be, perhaps, 
expressed in outward forms that, to an unsympathetic eye, 
may savour of idolatry. 

The fact is, unfortunately, that the lower Hinduism knows 
and cares very little about the liigher, while the higher is 
so contaminated by the lower that, except in small reform- 
ing sects, it can scarcely be said to exist. The "spiritual- 
ity" manifested in the lower Hinduism is that to wliich 
anthropologists have given the name of animism. It is 
the spirituality of the savage who fears and seeks to pro- 
pitiate, not only ghosts and demons, but every natural 
object or phenomenon that can possibly influence his life. 
New gods and new worships grow like weeds from the teem- 
ing soil. They are growing to-day, if not quite with the 
old luxuriance; and the higher Hinduism makes no attempt 
to keep them down. listen to what "The Saint Ramdas," 
as quoted by Mr. Justice Chandavarkar, of Bombay, has td 
say on the subject: "Many gods have risen and run riot; 
it is a medley of ghosts and deities; the One Supreme God 
has been forgotten; so all has become a hotch-potch of 
worslii^:). Hence the tliinking power has been destroyed. 
Who knows the difference between the true and the false 
in this market cry of the Shastras and the noises of the 
gods.^"' The Saint, as is natural, assumes that this chaos 
results from the corruption and degradation of a once pure 
faith ; but, historically, this is not the case. The lower 
Hinduism is simply an unwecded jungle of indigenous cults 
and cult-making tendencies which the liiglicr Hinduism has 



adopted, and to which it has large!}' assimilated itself. If it 
be spirituality to think of the whole world as being at the 
mercy of mj'riads of capricious powers wliich may be pla- 
cated by sacrifices and sometimes dominated by spells, tiien 
all one can say is that savagery and spirituality are closely 

The higher Hinduism, or Brahminism in the stricter sense 
of the term, is descended from the religion brought into 
India by the Aryan invaders, but has, in the course of ages, 
clianged bejond recognition. It has thrown off, so to speak, 
philosophies the appraisement of wluch we have agreed to 
leave to experts. But the pliilosophy which inheres in it as 
a workaday religion, which underlies such definite doctrines 
as it can be said to possess, is neither technical nor recon- 
dite, and may be discussed without presumption. A little 
scrutiny will show us, I think, that on this side, too, India 
has achieved a reputation for spirituality which the facts 
are far from justifying. Great thinkers she may have pos- 
sessed, but she has not extracted from their thoughts a 
rational, an ennobling, or even a morally helpful religion.* 
Hinduism is defined in the Census of India (1901) as "An- 
imism more or less transformed by philosophy," or, more 
briefly, as "Magic tempered by metaphysics." To my think- 
ing the animism and the magic are much more palpable than 
the transformation and tempering. 

From the holy texts, then, what has actually been ex- 
tracted? Three fundamental doctrines, wliich may be de- 
scribed as the essence of the higher Hinduism. They are: 

* Deussen, indeed, says: "The Vedanta, in its unfalsified form, is the 
strongest support of pura morality, is tlie greatest consolation in the 
sufferings of life and death— Indians, Iveep to it!" Even if we could 
accept this opinion as authoritative, we should have to inquire how many 
Indians now, or at any time, have made the Vedanta "in its unfalsified 
form" their guide in life and death. 


(1) Tlie doctrine of Karma- in association with the 
transmigration of souls. 

(2) The doctrine that life is an incurable ill, from which 
we can be relieved only by attaining re-absorption 
into the All, or the Self, or That, as the inexpressible 
is sometimes expressed.* 

(3) The doctrine of the supreme and all-conquering 
efficacy of asceticism. 

Can we, then, recognize in these doctrines symptoms of high 
spirituality or idealism in the people which has evolved and 
lived upon them ? 

Transmigeatiox axd Kaejia. 

The first is not a metaphysical doctrine at all, but an 
assertion of wliat maj' be called etliico-physical fact, which 
might conceivably be proved by such e\'idence as would 
satisfy- a court of law. For my part, I know of only one 
objection to it, namel}', that satisfactory evidence, or any 
evidence beyond the assertions of the holy texts, is entirely 
lacking. No one seems to know precisely how or when the 
doctrine of transmigration implanted itself in the Indian 
mind- — it is not to be found in tlie Veda, nor did it come from 
Greece. It was in all probability borrowed from the aborigi- 
nal tribes ; for it is a concept that has occurred to the un- 
tutored savage fancy in almost every region of the world. 
It is, of course, impossible of disproof. No one can say that 
his vital principle, whatever it may be, has not at some time 
inhabited other bodies, animal or human, and may not pass 
through a further series of incarnations. But as it is 

* There appears, indeed, to be some distinction between "the Seir* 
and "That." Brahma as "That" would seem to include Brahma as 
"the Self." nie one is unmanifested, the other is manifested. The 
reader will, perhaps, pardon me for not going more at large into the 



scarcely asserted, and certainly not proved,* that memory 
ever links-up these existences, so as to establish tlieir identity 
with one anotlier, it is hard to see what is the value, or 
indeed the meaning, of an identity which never represents 
itself in consciousness. My memory is me: what is outside 
my memory is not me, in any sense that matters to me ; and 
if an angel from heaven assured me that once upon a time I 
was Julius Cffisar or Judas Iscariot, I should be politely in- 
terested — no more. It would be otherwise if we were prom- 
ised, and believed, that, at the end of our series of avatars, 
we should suddenly recall them all, and see and realize the 
thread of personality running through them. That would be 
a consummation of unique interest : a cinematograph-show of 
the ages, which we could turn on at will in the theatre of 
our sublimated brain. But what we are actually promised 
when we have "dreed our weird" to the end, is, not memory, 
but forgetfulness, or something practically indistinguisliable 
from it: so that we should toil up a Himalaya of experiences 
only to close our eyes to the view. Lafcadio Hearn some- 
where relates a Buddhist legend of a disciple and Master — 
a chela and guru — painfully ascending a mountain which 
seems to crumble away under their feet, until at last the 
disciple realizes that it is not on loose stones he is treading, 
but on skulls — the mountain is entirely composed of them. 
"Whose skulls are these.'"' he asks; and the Master replies : 
"They have all been your own." One could not desire a 
better parable of the transmigration theory : each of us is to 
climb up a mountain of his own skidls in order to merit the 
privilege of nirvana at the top. 

As for karma, it is simply the transmigrationist form of 
the old moral: as a man sows, so shall he reap. It is cer- 

* Theosophists, I understand, sometimes profess to recall, or otherwise 
identify, their previous incarnations; but I am not aware that they ad- 
duce anything that can he called evidence. 



tainly more consonant with abstract justice than the theory 
which allots us only one brief seed-time on earth, to be fol- 
lowed by a singularly disproportionate harvest of eternal 
bliss or pain. Assuming that our actions are not the mathe- 
matical result of their antecedents, but are in some measure, 
at any rate, originated by a free moral agent within us, there 
is doubtless a sort of fair-play in giving us an indefinite 
series of lives in which to struggle upwards, through tem- 
porary error and defeat, to some ultimate goal of spiritual 
perfection. If there were the smallest evidence that such 
was the lot imposed upon us, we could accept it, if not with 
rapture, at any rate with tolerable fortitude — on condition 
that in undergoing this series of adventures, the soul should 
be conscious of its identity. The admitted non-fulfilment of 
this condition robs the scheme of all its virtues. Why should 
I care what I sow when it is (to all intents and purposes) a 
stranger who will reap, I myself, as a conscious individual, 
having ceased to exist. '^ No doubt, as the world goes on, the 
idea of the welfare of coming generations takes more and 
more hold of us, and we are more and more willing to 
make strenuous exertions, and even to sacrifice what may 
seem our immediate personal good, for the sake of that idea. 
But who is so fantastically self-centred as to feel his benevo- 
lence towards posterity reinforced by the notion that one 
of the partakers in the good time coming will, in some in- 
conceivable and wholly unrealized fashion, be he himself.'' 
Such identity is surely immaterial in every sense of the word. 
A man who has children, may, indeed, tell liimself that tiie 
"posterity" he works for will probably be, in some measure, 
his very own ; but docs that idea perceptibly stimulate his 
endeavours.' To think so would be to take an extravagantly 
cj'nical view of human nature. Egoists we may be, but not 
such morbid egoists as to think more of our own great great 
great great grandsons than of the descendants of other peo- 



plo. Do we find, as a matter of fact, that tlie man who has 
cliildren is apt to be more concerned about the future of 
humanit}' tlian the cliildless man? No, we do not: it might 
rather be argued that, from Jesus Christ onwards, the most 
passionate workers for the kingdom of heaven on earth have 
been celibate or childless. And if the real, though attenu- 
ated, continuance of our personality in our distant offspring 
be not a sensible spur to benevolence, why should an unre- 
alizable, unthinkable identitj' between me and some man, 
woman, or animal a thousand years hence — an identity for 
which there is no evidence save "the holy texts" — furnish me 
with an ethical motive of any measurable efficiency? * I 
suggest, then, that the theory is not deep, but shallow — 
that it founds an illusory spiritual law upon an imaginary 
natural law, conceived at a venture by some primitive people. 

It is said by some who know the Indian character well 
that the foregoing argument is rebutted by the facts — 
that, whether it ought to or ought not, the theory of karma 
does in practice supply "an ethical motive of measurable 
efficiency." For instance, Mr. Bum, of the United Prov- 
inces, one of the workers in the Census of 1901, writes as 
follows : 

"It has been stated that the ordinary Hindu peasant has 
practically no belief in the doctrine of transmigration ; 
but this is contradicted by mj' own experience and by all 
the reports that have been supplied to me. I believe that 
the doctrine of karma is one of the firmest beliefs of all 
classes of Hindus, and that the fear that a man shall reap 
as he has sown is an appreciable element in the average 
morality." Tliis may very well be true: though, like the 

* Professor Hyslop, late of Columbia University, puts the matter 
briefly and forcibly: "An identity of subject or substance without a 
retention of our memories would have neither interest nor moral impor- 
tance for us." The Borderland of Psychical Research, p. 368. 



fear of hell, the doctrine of karma (which, by the way, does 
not exclude the fear of hell) has probably much more effect 
on the naturally good than on the naturally evil. At all 
events, I am not concerned to deny the efficiency of karma 
as a factor in Hindu morality, such as it is. My point is 
that the doctrine is not one which testifies to any spiritual 
genius on the part of those who conceived and elaborated 
it ; and that point is rather strengthened than otherwise 
if all their brooding on "the holy texts" has not shown 
the Hindu people it.-> insubstantiality. If the theory is an 
empty one, there is little proof of spiritual genius in having 
evolved it, and still less in having clung to it for three thou- 
sand years. 


We come now to the second characteristic of Hindu 
thought — its deep-seated pessimism. Here, again, the credit 
of mere priority cannot be denied to the thinkers of Arya- 
varta. As they were the first to seek the reality behind the 
appearances of things, so, too, were they the first to frame a 
systematic indictment of life, and to aver, like Lcopardi, 
that "men are miserable by necessity, though resolute in 
declaring themselves miserable by accident." The mere 
formulation of this theory shows considerable acuteness of 
thought — a substantial advance upon the primitive attitude 
of mind which accepts life, as a dog accepts it, with unre- 
flecting acquiescence. Until man has acquired the faculty 
of conscious discontent, he is a mere thrall to his destin}'. 
And, discontent once born, it was inevitable that it should 
be carried to its logical issue in systematic pessimism ; even 
though, for the mass of mankind, j)sycliology gives logic the 
lie, and re-asserts the value of life, sjiite of "age, ache, 
penury and imprisonment." 

But it is not in the mere fonnuhitlon of a pessimistic 



philosophy that Indian spiritual genius is supposed to have 
manifested itself; it is rather in the discover}- of a method 
of releasing the soul from the treadmill of innumerable re- 
incarnations. Wherein lies the evil of life? What is it that 
binds us to the wheel? Why, desire, the thirst for this, that 
or the other gratification, which, being attained, cloys; not 
being attained, tortures. "There are only two tragedies in 
life ; not getting what you want — and getting it" : that is 
the kernel of Indian wisdom. Consequently, as the soul is 
indestructible and cannot be simply extinguished, the evil of 
life must be circumvented by the extinction of desire, the 
cultivation of detachment, indiiFerence, until nirvana, or re- 
absorption into Brahma, the Self, from which all being 
emanates, be ultimately achieved. The exact conditions of 
nirvana, and whether the soul, after re-absorption, retains 
any sort of individuality, I have never been able to make out. 
The oracles are either dumb or contradictory. But if in- 
di\'iduality be not retained, nir\-ana would seem to be little 
more than a euphemism for death. 

Many people imagine that tliis pessimistic philosophj', 
culminating in the dogma of nirvana, is peculiar to Bud- 
dhism; but that is not so.* It was characteristic of Hindu- 
ism long before Gautama was born; and it remains an in- 
tegral part of Hinduism, though Buddhism is practicallj' 
extinct in the land of its birth. The Bhagavad-Gita, though 
of comparatively late origin, and outside the pale of the 
so-called "inspired" books, is nevertheless recognized by the 
modern Hindu as a work of the highest authority: so that 
the following quotations from it may be accepted as present- 
ing an orthodox view of the theory of detachment. The 
speaker is the god Krishna, an incarnation of Vishnu; and 
he is supposed to be addressing Arjuna, the leading hero of 

* Buddhism, rejecting the doctrine of the Self, and denying the indi- 
vidual soul, has to adopt a still more elusive conception of nirvana. 



the Mahabharata, on the eve of the battle of Kurukshetra. 
Thus, then, saith Krislina: 

"Humility, unprctentiousness, harmlessness, rectitude, service 
of the teacher, purity and steadfastness, self-control, 

"Indifference to the objects of the senses, and also absence of 
egoism, insight into the pain and evil of birth, death, old-age and 

"Unattachment, absence of self-identification with son, wife or 
home, and constant balance of mind in wished-for and unwished- 
for events, 

"Unflinching devotion to Me by yoga,* without other object, 
resort to sequestered places, absence of enjoyment in the com- 
pany of men, 

"Constancy in the Wisdom of the Self, understanding of the 
object of essential wisdom: that is declared to be the Wisdom; 
all against it is ignorance." 

"One should neither rejoice in obtaining what is pleasant nor 
sorrow in obtaining what is unpleasant; with Reason firm, un- 
perplext, the Brahma-knower is established in Brahma. 

"He whose self is unattached to external contacts, and findeth 
joy in the Self, having the self harmonized with Brahma by yoga, 
enjoyeth happiness exempt from decay." 

"He who is happy within, who rejoices within, and who is illu- 
minated within, that yogi, becoming Brahma, goeth to the Nir- 
vana of Brahma. . . ." 

It may be noticed that in these passages there is no refer- 
ence to transmigration. The theory, indeed, is so hard to 
work out in detail, that Indian sages often forget to use 
the language appropriate to it. But none of them, so far as 
I am aware, explicitly renounces it ; and the most modern 

* Yoga, in this aspect, is defined as "ecstatic union of soul with the 
supreme spirit." 



exponents of Hinduism cling to it with desperate tenacity. 
Witness this passage from Sanatana Dharma, a work from 
which I have already quoted, under its sub-title oi An Ele- 
mentary Text Book of Hindu Religion and Ethics: 

A Jiva [that is, practically, a soul] may slip backwards for a 
time, and stay awhile in a stage that he has long left behind him. 
There is something he has not quite learned, some power he has 
not quite evolved, and he falls by this into a lower stage again, 
as a boy at school, if he were idle, might be put back into a lower 
class. A Jiva which has reached the human stage may be attached 
to an animal or to a plant, or . . . even to a stone, till he has 
learnt to use the human form better. . . . But the Jiva is not to 
be tied for ever to the wheel of births and deaths. The ropes 
that tie him to this wheel are his desires. So long as he desires 
objects that belong to this earth, he must come back to this earth 
in order to possess and enjoy these objects. But when he ceases 
to desire these objects, then the ropes are broken and he is free. 
He need not be born any more: he has reached liberation. 

This is the stage of development indicated by the Buddha 
himself, in the following passage: "The man who is free 
from anger, endowed with holy works, virtuous, without 
desires, subdued and wearing his last body, him I call a 

Can we, then, accept as a great discovery, a lofty ideal, 
a proof of rare spiritual genius, tliis concept of salvation 
through the annihilation of desire? Is it not, on the con- 
trary, the glorification of a simple device for "hedging" 
against destiny, which most of us discover for ourselves, and 
the strong man discovers only to abandon as being cowardly 
and ineffective? There is something, no doubt, in the rule 
of practical philosophy which bids us not to found the liva- 
bility of life upon external satisfactions, subject to the 
caprice of fortune, but rather on internal resources of which 


nothing can deprive us. Up to a certain point, tliis is true 
wisdom ; carried beyond that point, it lands us in sheer in- 
sanities of egoism which strike at the very root of all human 
association. This is so evident that Indian thinkers have 
expended a great deal of ingenuity on the attempt to recon- 
cile a philosopliy which denies all value to life with an ethical 
system based, as all etliical systems must be, on the assump- 
tion that life is supremely valuable, and the test of all other 
values. A good act is, ultimately, one which tends to make 
life livable ; a bad act, on the contrary, one which tends to 
make life unlivable. That is so in Indian as in all other 
ethics: but if life be inherently evil, why should that which 
makes for life be good? To this question there is no rational 
answer. A consistently pessimistic ethical s_ystem is a con- 
tradiction in terms. 

If we wish to see how Indian thought escaped, or tried 
to escape, from this dilemma, we may turn again to the 
Bhagavad-Gita. The argument, so far as I can follow it, 
amounts to this: since nothing matters to the wise man, and 
since he must do something (for even he who passes his life 
in contemplating the end of his own nose, is performing 
action of some sort), he may just as well act virtuouslj' as 
the otiier way : 

"The man who rejoiceth in the SELF, with tlie SELF is satis- 
fied, and is content in the SELF, for liim verily there is notliinij 
to do. 

"For him tlierc is no interest in things done in this world, nor 
any in things not done, nor doth any object of his depend on any 

"Therefore, without attachment, constantly perform action 
which is duty, for by performing action without attachment man 
verily reacheth the Supreme." 

It does not, at this point, occur to Arjuna to inquire 



what duty is, or why it is duty. If he did, he would prob- 
ably be referred to the holy texts, or to the will of Brahma. 
A few lines further back, Krislxna has told him that "all 
things which have life are generated from the bread they 
eat : bread is generated from rain, rain from divine worship 
and divine worship from good works" — so that the sanction 
of good works lies ultimately, even for Krishna, in their 
making for life. It is only fair to add that the particular 
good work which Krishna is enjoining upon Arjuna is that 
of slaughtering as many as possible of his kinsmen and 
former friends in a gigantic battle, arising out of a family 
feud : a work which certainly cannot be said to make for life. 
But this does not appreciably help us to find any stable 
foothold in a region of logical quicksands and whirlpools.* 

The upshot, as it seems to me, is something like this: 
The doctrine of detacliment, passionlessness, indifference, 
as a cure for the inherent evil of existence, is not a profound 
one at all, but is merely the exaggeration of a common 
and somewhat pusillanimous rule of prudence. In its exag- 
gerated form, it is violently anti-social, and consequently 
incompatible with any rational system of ethics. If, never- 
theless, we find in the Hindu writings many admirable ethical 
doctrines, it is only because Hindu philosophy is, after all, 
too human to be logical. Tliis is not the place to discuss 
that problem so strangely overlooked by the theologians — 
the Origin of Good. Suffice it to say that good is a plant 
which springs from every soil, along with the beginnings of 
social cohesion and co-operation; and according as it flour- 
ishes or sickens we say that a people rises or falls in the 

* It might, perhaps, be possible to construct a scheme of moral values 
in which actions should rank as more or less laudable according as they 
did or did not tend to promote in others that subjugation of will and 
detachment from desire in which the highest good is assumed to consist. 
But I am not aware that this has been seriously attempted. 



scale of humanity. That it has at times flourished greatly 
on the soil of India is beyond question. One day, perhaps, 
when a world-standard of "good" has been evolved, it may be 
possible to measure witii some accuracy the comparative 
values of tlie ethical achievements of India, Judea, Greece, 
Rome and the modern world. In the meantime all we can say 
with confidence is that India has lived an interesting and 
chequered moral life, with a fair share of victories and per- 
haps more than a fair share of disasters. But to base any 
claim to special genius 'upon her attempt to reconcile a high 
conception of moral activity with a flat negation of the value 
of life is surely an extravagant paradox. 


The third fundamental doctrine of Hinduism is the su- 
preme and all-conquering virtue of asceticism. Can this be 
accepted as a token of spiritual genius? 

Asceticism has entered more or less largely into the prac- 
tices of every religion, and in some cases, no doubt, we must 
recognize it as a measure of spiritual hygiene. "Plain liv- 
ing," carried even to the point of abstinence, may conduce 
to "high thinking" ; and in times of rampant luxury and 
sensuality, the ascetic's protest is at any rate well meant. 
Of more questionable value, but still respectable, is the ascet- 
icism whicli finds in physical privation a means of spiritual 
illumination, insight, intuition. This is sometimes, no doubt, 
the motive of the yogi: but Indian asceticism was, in its 
origin, neither a protest against luxury, nor an aid to clair- 
voyance, but very patently a branch of magic. Not that it 
was peculiar in this respect ; a magical element is everj'where 
traceable in ascetic pi-actices ; but in India that clement is 
particularly prominent and persistent. The rishis whom 
modern Hinciuizers would have us mention witli bated breath, 



figure in popular legend, not as beneficent sages, but as 
peculiarly irritable ascetics who, by dint of hideous "austeri- 
ties," have acquired a power of cursing which they use with 
the utmost freedom, often on very slight pi-ovocation. Nor 
can it be said of their comminations that "nobody seems a 
penny the worse." On the contrary, the gods tliemselves 
cannot stand up against "the potent curse of a holy ascetic." 
Here is a characteristic story — one of hundreds — from the 
Mahabharata. An ascetic, under a vow of silence, was ac- 
cused of receiving the stolen goods of a gang of robbers. 
Debarred by his vow from pleading not guilty, he was im- 
paled along with the bandits. With the stake in liis body, 
he "serenely devoted himself to contemplation," and lived 
on as though nothing had happened. This miracle being 
brought to the notice of the king, he humbly apologized to 
the skewered sage, and ordered his immediate release. It 
was found impossible to extract the stake from his body, so 
it was sawn off, "and the ascetic, apparently none the worse 
for this addition to his internal economy, went about as 
usual." He was not grateful, however, for so notable an ad- 
dition to his stock of "merit," and called the God of Justice 
to account for his misadventure. That deity explained that 
the ascetic had once, in his childhood, impaled an insect on 
a blade of grass, so that the punishment exactly fitted the 
crime. The holy 'man was not of that opinion, "particularly 
as the Shastras exempted children from responsibility for 
their actions." Feeling that such maladministration of an 
important department must not be overlooked, he uttered 
the following curse, "Thou shalt, oh God of Justice, be bom 
among men, and in the Sudra (or servant) caste." Hence 
followed an incarnation of the erring deity, through the 
human agency of another renowned ascetic, whose amour 
with a maid-servant need not be here related. It is not the 


least repulsive of the nauseous birtli-stories in which Hindu' 
mythology abounds. 

These, it may be said, are late and debased legends, and 
the irascible and malignant rishis of the epics are not to be 
confounded with the rishis of the Vedic hymns. Perhaps 
not; but the mass of the Indian people has for ages drawn 
its spiritual nourishrtient, not from the Vedas, but precisely 
from these monstrous epics whicli attribute to sages and 
holy anchorites unlimited powers of maleficent magic* "De- 
votion and asceticism impress," says Sir Alfred Lyall, "be- 
cause they are found to connote influence with heaven, rather 
than as ethical examples." And assuredly it is from the 
worscr, not the better, side of asceticism that the ascetics 
of to-day draw their inspiration. They are of two classes: 
the comparatively' clean sturdy-beggars, with shaven heads 
and saffron robes, who perambulate the country ; and the 
filthy and disgusting creatures, daubed with ashes, and wear- 
ing their uncut hair in matted chignons, who haunt sacred 
places and are, I imagine, more or less stationary. Some of 
them, no doubt, ai'e sincere fanatics ; but many, by the ad- 
mission of everyone, are simply noxious ruffians. Mrs. Annie 
Besant's enthusiasm for Hinduism makes her tolerant of 
many strange things ; but even she cannot away with the 
common fakir. Addressing the Hindu people, she says: 
"You are not too poor to build colleges and schools for your 
children while you are able to maintain, as you are doing, 
large crowds of men as mendicants, in the full strength of 
vigorous life, who are innocent of all sacred learning, inno- 
cent of the light, who have nothing of tlie sannyasi but the 
cloth that covers tlicm, and wlio are yet fed and sheltered 
by the crore." 

• The plot of tlie celebrated Sakiintala of Kalidnsn turns upon a curse 
uttered by a holy ascetic, merely because Sakuntala was a little tardy in 
opening the door of her cottage to him. 



The Census of 1901 showed that 5,200,000 sadhus and 
persons of like character lived by begging. "Taking the 
cost of their upkeep at the low average of R.3 a month [a 
little more than three-halfpence a day], this means an an- 
nual tax of £12,500,000 which the workers of India pay to 
the drones." The alleged "drain" upon India, due to her 
association with Britain, amounts, at any reasonable reckon- 
ing, to little more than half this sum. Whether it is really a 
"drain" at all is a question to be afterwards considered. In 
any case, the politicians who are so loud in their complaints 
that India paj's too dear for the services rendered her by 
Britain, would do well to inquire what services are rendered 
by the sadhiis and sannyasis for whom she pays nearly twice 
as much. The answer that the upkeep of the mendicants 
does not go out of the country is nothing to the point. Un- 
less they render some equivalent ser%'ice, it is just as though 
rats every year devoured grain to the value of twelve and a 
half millions. 

On examination, then, it would seem that India's claim 
to spiritual genius rests, not on any exceptional value in 
her contributions to the intellectual heritage of the world, 
but simply on priority of date in some of her philosophical 
speculations. There seems to have been a considerable body 
of religio-philosopliical thought in India some centuries be- 
fore any similar body of doctrine can be shown to have 
existed in other parts of the world. But the question of 
priority is more curious than important. We do not call a 
man a good worker merely because he rises at six. If the 
man who rises at eight does a better day's work, it is he who 
merits the palm. 

India's real distinction lies, not in evolving, but in killing, 
the germs of sane and virile spirituality. The fact that she, 
so to speak, got up at six, is not her glory but her reproach. 


What has she made of her long working-day? Has she 
evolved a noble, pure, progressive religion, in intimate rela- 
tion with high social and individual morality''' There are a 
few fanatics who would answer this question in the affirma- 
tive, but I can imagine no wilder perversion of staring, glar- 
ing, incontrovertible fact. The popular Hindu religion of 
to-day is the lowest professed and practised by any people 
that purports to have risen above savagery. Beside it the 
devotion of the Russian or Spanish peasant is rational and 
enlightened. As for Muhammadanism, one leaves India with 
(comparatively speaking) an enormous respect for it. Even 
its fanaticisms are reasonable compared with those of tlie 
Hindu ; and in its evei'yday aspect, it is a clean, a dignified, 
a manly cult. 

It is sometimes said that Hinduism has at least the merit 
of being marvellously suited to the character of the people. 
As well might we marvel at the nicety with which a man's 
skin fits his flesh. Hinduism is the character of the people, 
and it indicates a melancholy proclivity towards whatever 
is monstrous and unwholesome. This may seem an absurdly 
sweeping "indictment of a nation ;" and so it would be if it 
were not for the well-known fact that people are always, in 
many respects, better than their religion. That there are 
fine and admirable qualities in the Hindu character I do not 
for a moment deny: else were the future of India hopeless 
indeed. It is precisely on the religious side that the char- 
acter of the Indian people, as I read it, is conspicuously 
defective. They have always gravitated towards the lower 
rather than the higher element in religion, towards the form 
rather than the substance, towards the letter rather than 
the spirit. That is why I hold it the very acme of jiaradox 
to claim for them an exalted spirituality. 

Does not the matter lie in a nutshell, when we find the 
most enlightened religious thought of to-dav concentrated 



on a movement "back to the Vedas"? What a confession 
of the only too patent fact that the religious history of the 
people has been one. long downward drift, scarcely inter- 
rupted by heroic but futile attempts to stem the tide! It is 
hardly fair, however, to speak as though the Hinduism of 
to-day were a lineal, thougii degenerate, descendant of the 
Vedic religion. It is much ratlier to be regarded as a prod- 
uct of the welter of fetishism and witchcraft into which the 
Aryan settlers plunged on their arrival in India. In phrases, 
names and forms, a good deal of degenerate Aryanism no 
doubt survives ; but the substance of Indian popular religion 
is little more than the rank crop of superstitions which have 
always grown, and which continue to grow, out of the sun- 
baked soil. These superstitions, says Sir Alfred Lyall, "are 
not so much the offspring of Brahminism as its children by 
adoption ;" * but assuredly they have overrun and taken 
possession of the house. 

In the Vedas we have a wholesome, primitive, nature- 
religion, free from sacerdotalism, free from asceticism, 
knowing nothing of metempsychosis, and based on a simple, 
natural form of social organization. A few centuries elapse, 
and we find religion the property of a hereditary priest- 

* See Sir Alfred Lj'all's "classification of beliefs" in his Asiatic Stud- 
ies, Vol. I., p. 7. The same higlily qualified authority says in another essay: 
"The masses have preserved their immemorial polytheism; they worship 
innumerable gods directly by prayer and sacrifice ; the middle class adores 
the great gods of the Hindu pantheon as the signs and figures of ubiqui- 
tous divinity." And again, "In India you may behold at this moment 
an immense and intelligent society much given to dreamy meditation 
over insoluble proljlems, and practically unanimous in rejecting any solu- 
tion that stops short of Pantheism." He is here writing in the assumed 
character of a Brahmin; but though the whole essay (Asiatic Studies, 
Vol. II., Chap, i.) is ironical, these passages are doubtless intended as 
sober .statements of fact. Presumptuous as it may appear, I cannot but 
wonder whether, if he could be cross-questioned. Sir Alfred might not 
be moved to qualify one or other of the two epithets "immense" and 


hood ; ceremonial so tinctured with magic tliat the misplacing 
of a syllable or an emphasis in a sacred mantra is supposed 
to annul its efficacy; asceticism rampant and arrogant; the 
theory of metempsychosis morbidly overstraining the imagi- 
nation, and leading men to look upon life as an illimitable, 
fantastic, more or less cruel fairy-tale; and, to crown all, a 
social organization the most elaborately anti-social that the 
mind of man ever conceived. Caste and its concomitant 
abuses we must consider in another chapter ; for the present 
it is sufficient to note that they are of the very essence of 
Hinduism, growing with its growth and strengthening with 
its strength. A few more centuries pass, and great efforts 
are made to remedy the worst of these abuses. Two almost 
contemporary movements, Buddhism and Jainism, have a 
certain measure of success. But Brahminism, tenaciously 
invincible, soon rears its undiminished head. Buddhism is 
cast out,* and the Jains survive as a comparatively small 
sect, worshipping a different set of idols, and more fanatical 
on the point of not taking animal life, but otherwise much 
on a level with orthodox Hindus. And so it goes with a 
hundred attempts at reform, the Sikh propaganda in the 
seventeenth century being perhaps the most notable. They 
find many adherents at first, generally among the castes 
whom Brahminism treads under foot; but the}' soon sink 
back almost indistingiiishably into crass superstition and 
inveterate social prejudice. The result is that the spiritual 
genius of the Indian people is to-day found expressing itself, 
not here and there, but everywhere, in forms which not only 
the Western world but China and Japan have for ages out- 
grown. The whole country is populated with myriads of 
monster-gods, many-headed, many-armed, often colossal, 

* Not without persecution it would appear, though as a rule Brahmin- 
ism is too vague, too unformulated and unorganized, to be a persecuting 



alwaj's hideous ; to say nothing of the animal gods, Gancsh 
and Hanunian, the elephant and the monkey, who are even 
more popular than their quasi-human rivals. If a census of 
idols — even confined to objects of public, as distinct from 
domestic, worship^could be taken in India, the result would 
be amazing, certainly running into millions. Nor do the 
rites whereby these idols are worshipped bear testimony to 
any superabundant spirituality. Of obscene and licentious 
practices I say notliing. I did not witness any ; and though 
they certainly prevail to some extent, it is hard to say how 
far they leaven the mass of Hinduism. Even if they did not 
exist at all, the ordinary daily practices of the cult are 
sufficient to place it beyond the pale of civilization. Not in 
out-of-the-way barbarous corners, but wherever you turn, 
you meet with repulsive performances of piety. A twopenny 
tram will take you from the centre of Calcutta to the 
"Kalighat," from which some suppose that the city takes 
its name, where you may see, in the slimy, swarming pre- 
cincts of the temple, the ground crimson with the blood of 
sacrifices, while in a filthy but very sacred backwater of the 
Hooghly men, women and children not only bathe in their 
hundreds, but drink the yellow ooze in which their bodies and 
their garments have been steeped.* Hinduism has, indeed, 
a marvellous gift for extracting bad effects from good in- 
tentions, actual ugliness from potential beauty. It is always 
washing and never clean ; some of its practices have prob- 
ably been hygienic in their origin, yet it is innocent, and 
often bitterly resentful, of sanitation; it professes a super- 
stitious respect for animal life,t but it raises no finger to 

* This is not, however, the most disgusting beverage prescribed by 
Hindu piety. The urine of cows, with other scarcely less nauseous in- 
gredients, enters largely into their "purificatory" doses. 

t The Jains cover their mouths with a respirator lest they should 
inadvertently inhale, and so kill, an insect. "Pinjrapole" hospitals for 


check the most callous cruelty to animals.* It is, in short, 
the great anachronism of the modem world. There is a 
synagogue in Prague which claims special sanctity on the 
ground that it has never been cleaned for seven centuries. 
For "seven" read "thirty" and you have the history of 

What is the distinguishing characteristic of all the great 
, religions of the world — at any rate of the three now preva- 
lent over three- fourths of the globe? Is it not that each has 
been filtered, at a definite historic period, through one or 
more great minds? The historic individuality of the Buddha 
and the Christ may be doubtful: perhaps they are legendary 
personifications of the purifying forces, rather than real 
personages. But even if we take this view (and it seems to 
me bj' no means established) we cannot deny the reality of 
the movements associated with their names. At all events, 
St. Paul and Muhammad are incontestably liistoric per- 
sonages, and in them we see the process of filtration very, 
clearly at work. It is ti*ue that, in all these cases, corrup- 
tions have subsequently crept in, and that attempts at re- 
filtration have bt^en only jiartially successful. Here and 
there, indeed, all three religions have relapsed into something 
very like primitive fetishism. Still, the character of the 
(real or ideal) founder of the cult has always set a standard 
to which refoniiers might iij){)eal, and placed a certain check 

animals are, it is said, "so administered as to cause more suffering: than 
they prevent." They have been known to contain wards for bugs, lice 
and scorpions. 

•See an article by the Hon. .Airs. Charlton in the Nineteenth Century 
for September, 1913. Sir Bampfylde Fuller says, "No one teases animals 
in India;" but this is certainly far too sweeping. On the very first day 
I spent in India, I saw some boys tormenting a poor sick squirrel, mangy, 
ragged and evidently dying. I reproached myself for not putting it out 
of its misery; but perhaps, if I had done so, there would have been a 



upon the worst degenerations. Hinduism, on the other hand, 
is a wholly unfiltered religion — a paganism which has reso- 
lutely declined filtration. If it includes in its pantheon any 
personage holding a position in the least analogous to that 
of Gautama or Jesus, it can only be Krishna — and what a 
difference is there ! It is this tendencj' towards pollution 
rather than purification that assigns it its place — incom- 
parably the lowest — in the scale of world-religions. Until 
Hinduism has somehow got itself filtered, India cannot rea- 
sonably claim fellowship on temis of equalitj' with the civi- 
lized nations of the earth. 



In the foregoing chapter, Hinduism has been regarded in 
its religious, as distinct from its social, aspect. Our object 
was to ascertain how far it bore out the widespread belief in 
the innate spiritualit}', the "lofty idealism," of the Indian 
character. But Hinduism is much more than a religion. It 
has begotten, and it continues to enforce with all the power 
of sacerdotal sanctions, an extremely elaborate social sj's- 
tem. Of tliis social system what are we to say? Is it one 
which justifies the people who adhere to it in claiming an in- 
dependent and equal place among the nations of the world? 
And, if not, what chances are tlierc of any effectual amend- 
ment within reasonable time? 

It is beating at an open door to demonstrate tlie evils of 
caste. If Hinduism had been in other respects the loftiest 
and purest religion imaginable, its intimate association with 
caste would have rendered it a calamity to the Indian peo- 
ple. I have earnestly endeavoured, by reading and personal 
inquiry, to discover the good side of caste — I will not say 
any general justification of the system, but even any ap- 
preciable set-off against its manifest evils. The endeavour 
has been almost fruitless. Is a caste a benefit society? 
Scarcely, if at all : caste comradeship manifests itself much 
more in ostentatious "treating" than in sj'stematic helpful 
charity.* Is a caste a trade- guild? Occasionally', in a very 

• Sir Bampfylde Fuller {Studies of Indian Life and Sentiment, p. 303). 
speaking of the extraordinary power of resistance to famine if it be not 


limited degree. The purposes of trade-protection are much 
better fulfilled by organizations specially directed to that 
end. It is said that caste secured a high level of hereditarj' 
skill in arts and handicrafts. I am not a sufficiently con- 
vinced adherent of Weissmann to deny the possibility of in- 
herited aptitude: but the probability is that the alleged 
effect was due simply to the influence of caste in promoting 
early and assiduous apprenticesliip. So much merit may 
be allowed it ; but a good apprenticeship-s3'stem has been 
evolved elsewhere, without enforced hereditj' of function. 
Even if, in these or other respects, some odds and ends of 
benefit may be shown to have resulted from caste, they are 
as nothing compared to the mountainous evils it has entailed 
upon unhappy India. It has enfeebled her politicall}' by 
substituting class-exclusiveness for solidarity, class-vanity 
for patriotism. It has impoverished her phj-sically by fos- 
tering a marriage system which is thoroughly unhealthy both 
in its obligations and in its restrictions. It has corrupted 
her morally by making insensate arrogance a religious and 
social duty. It has paralysed her intellectually by forcing 
her to occupy her mind with infantUe rules and distinctions, 
and to regard them as the most serious interests in life. 

Nor is there any defence for caste in the "tu quoque" 
argument. It is true that class-distinctions, class-vanity 
and class-arrogance obtain to a certain extent throughout 
the world, and that in many countries — in England among 

too long continued, says, "It is due in the main to the efficacy of the 
family and the caste as institutions for mutual relief. There is no man 
but has some one to turn to in misfortune. . . . Indeed it might perhaps 
be argued that caste owes its extraordinary development to apprehension 
of famine. Caste certainly establishes some such responsibility for relief 
.as was thrown upon English villages by the Poor Law settlement." l"his 
is the most plausible plea for caste that I have come across; but most 
authorities declare it to be a very inefficient Poor Law. Mutual helpful- 
ness within the limits of the family is, of course, a diflFerent matter. 



the rest — they manifest themselves in noxious and ridiculous 
forms. Certainly there is too much of caste in Europe and 
America, where, moreover, it is accompanied by a paltry 
wealth-worslup which is at any rate less conspicuous in 
India. But apart from the fact that caste is infinitely more 
complex, more rigid and more inhuman in India than any- 
where else in the world, there is a fundamental difference 
which deprives the comparison of all validity. It is simply 
that in Christian and Muhammadan countries religion fights 
against caste, or, failing to do so, neglects its manifest 
duty ; whereas in India religion is so inextricably identified 
with caste that one may almost reverse tlio order of the con- 
cepts and say that caste is religion. In the West, people 
are of many minds as to the permanent value and necessity 
of class distinctions. Some hold social equality to be an idle 
dream ; a few even believe that hereditary aristocracy is an 
institution of high social value. But scarcely anyone would 
openly deny that 

The rank is but the guinea stamp, 
The man's the gowd for a' that. 

Scarcely anyone would openly deny that homage ought to 
be paid rather to worth than to birtli, and all tlie more to 
worth if it has not enjoyi'd, from the outset, the advantages 
of birth and station. Religion and social theory, in a word, 
both profess to be equalitariaii, whatever defects of practice 
we may have to admit and deplore. Rut in India the most 
inhuman snobbery is a religious duty. In India alone, of all 
countries in the world, are millions of human beings placed 
outside the pale, not only of society, but of religion, by the 
mere fact of their being born to useful and necessary but 
conventionally degrading functions. Other countries share 
the benefits or evils (as the case may be) of a hereditary 



aristocracy ; in India alone there is a hereditary and ex- 
clusive priesthood, a hereditary and hopeless sediment of 
"untouchables." * India has the monopoly of the Brahmin 
and the Pariah. 

"During times of conquest and migration," says Max 
MiiUer, "such as are represented to us in the hymns of the 
Rig-Veda, the system of castes, as it is described, for in- 
stance, in the Laws of Manu, would have been a simple im- 
possibUitv\ . . . On the other hand we do find in the gramas 
of the Five Nations, warriors, sometimes called nobles, lead- 
ers, kings ; counsellors, sometimes called priests, prophets, 
judges; and working-men, whether ploughers, or builders, or 
road-makers. These three divisions we can clearly perceive, 
even in the early hymns of the Rig-Veda." These divisions 
manifestly correspond to the Kshattryas, Brahmins and 
Vaisyas of later times ; and when we add the Sudras, or ser- 
vile caste, originally consisting, no doubt, of the conquered 
aborigines, we have the four castes of classic tradition. So 
far, the origin of caste is clear enough and normal enough: 
the problem which no one has satisfactorily solved is to 
account for the innumerable ramifications of later days, and 
the absolute tyranny which caste prejudice and exclusive- 
ness came to exercise over the mind of the whole Indian 
people. It is not difficult to trace several of the influences 
which have gone to the building up of the sj'stem. Totem- 
ism, for instance, played its part ; and clan-practices of en- 
dogamy and exogamy are familiar to anthropologists all 
over the world. But the fact that many of the elements 
of caste are to be found elsewhere and everywhere, only 
renders it harder to understand why in India alone the 
system should have nm into such monstrous developments. 

* "The term untouchable, as applied to over 50,000,000 Indians, is in 
no sense merely metaphoric." Saint Xihal Singh in Contemporary Re- 
view, March, 1913. 


To say tlmt, in India, everything runs into exaggeration 
and monstrosity is only to re-state the problem, not to solve 
it. "The system arose out of weakness and lifelessness 
among the peojile," says Mr. R. C. Dutt, "and to a certain 
extent it has perpetuated tliat weakness.'' One can under- 
stand that enervation begotten of climate might render the 
mass of the people easy victims to the exorbitant pretensions 
of the priestly caste ; but why should "weakness and lifeless- 
ness" generate the fantastic multiplication of mutually ex- 
clusive groups throughout the whole social system? There 
is surely a good deal yet to be done in tracing out, not only 
the historic, but the psycliologlcal origins of caste. 

In its practical effect, it may be likened to a virulent 
epidemic. It seems as tliough the Indian peoples were 
peculiarly susceptible to the bacillus of arrogance. Gen- 
erated among the Brahmins, the microbe spread, by way of 
servile imitation, through all classes, until a passion for 
having someone to despise and look down upon became 
universal and ineradicable. Snobbery has been defined as 
a mean admiration for mean things ; but here we have an 
inverted and much more ininmian snoblx>r\', wliich consists 
in aggressive contempt, without any semblance of a rational 
basis. "The Brahmin won't take water from me; therefore 
it is necessary to my self-respect that I should find someone 
from whom I may decline to take water" — this, or some- 
thing like it, appears to have been the instinctive feeling 
which lay at the root of caste. The desire to hand on a 
humiliation is one of the conmion foibles of human nature; 
but in India alone has it become a ruling principle of life. 
The infection has penetrated to the vci-y depths of the social 
scale, so that one of the difficulties in the way of raising the 
"depressed" castes, is that no one is so "depressed" but that 
he will object to liaviiig his children educated along 



with the children of someone wliom he imagines to be a 
hair's-breadth lower than himself.* 

The Census of 1901 recognizes 2,378 "main castes" as 
distinct from minor and fluctuating sub-divisions. As to 
precedence : 

"It is impossible," says Sir Herbert Risley, "to draw up any 
scheme for the whole of India. One might as well try to con- 
struct a table of social precedence for Europe, which would bring 
together on the same list Spanish grandees, Swiss hotel-keepers, 
Turkish Pashas, and Stock-Exchange milHonaires, and should in- 
dicate the precise degree of relative distinction attaching to each." 

Yet some sort of classification may be attempted in accord- 
ance with the following criteria: 

"That particular castes are supposed to be modern representa- 
tives of one or other of the castes of the theoretical Hindu system 
(Brahmins, Kshattryas, Vaisyas) ; that Brahmins will take water 
from certain castes ; that Brahmins of high standing will serve 
particular castes ; that certain castes, though not served by the 
best Brahmins, have nevertheless got Brahmins of their own . . . ; 
that certain castes are not served by Brahmins at all, but have 
priests of their own; that the status of certain castes has been 
raised by their taking to infant marriage, or abandoning the re- 
marriage of widows ; that the status of some castes has been low- 
ered by their living in a particular locality ; that the status of 
others has been modified by their pursuing some occupation in a 
special or peculiar way; that some can claim the services of the 
village barber, the village palanquin-bearer, the village midwife, 
etc., while others cannot; that some castes may not enter the 
courtyard of certain temples; that some castes are subject to 
special taboos, such as that they must not use the village well, that 

* Dubois speaks of a case in which a serious riot had nearly arisen 
because a shoemaker at a public festival had stuck red flowers in his 
turban, which the Pariahs — mark that! — insisted that none of his caste 
had a right to wear. 


they must live outside the village, or in a separate quarter, that 
they must leave the road on the approach of a high-caste man, or 
must call out to give warning of their approach. ... In Western 
and Southern India Brahmins will as a rule take water only from 
Brahmins. In Northern India they will take water and certain 
sweetmeats from some of the better class of Sudra castes. In 
Madras the idea of ceremonial pollution by the proximity of a 
member of an unclean caste has been developed with much elab- 
oration. In Cochin a Yayar can pollute a man of a higher caste 
only by touching him, the Kammalan group (masons, blacksmiths, 
carpenters and leather-workers) pollute at twenty-four feet, 
toddy-drawers at thirty-six feet, Pulayan or Cheruman cultiva- 
tors at forty-eight feet, Paraiyan (Pariahs) who eat beef, at 
sixty-four feet." 

Tliero is a caste of Brahmins in Bengal who are perma- 
nently degraded by the fact tliat four centuries ago their 
forefathers were compelled to cat, or as some say only to 
smell, the beef-steaks that had been cooked for a renegade 
Brahmin, the dcwan of a Muliammadan prince. 

Nothing would be easier than to fill pages with instances 
of the absurdity and cruelty of caste.* It would he dillicult, 

* Men will die in famine-time rather than accept food from a low- 
caste or casteless person. At Lahore, only a year or two ago, a chit- 
prassi was mortally injvirod by a bomb explosion. As he lay on the 
ground in agony, someone brought him a glass of water; but "a man in 
the crowd said that he was a brother of the dying man, and that, as he 
was a Brahmin they ought not to give him anything to drink." At 
Kohat, not long ago a group of women were drawing water at a well, 
when a child fell in. The only man at hand was a "sweeper" who 
wanted to go down to its rescue; but the women would not suffer him 
to pollute the well, and the child was drowned. It hsis been remarked 
that Nana Sahib, at Cawnpore, did not lose caste by engaging butchers 
to slaughter some hundred and fifty women and children in the Hibi 
Garh; but if he had let one little girl live, and taken a glass of water 
from her hands, he could scarcely have expiated the ]iollution. In 
Southern India it used to be a law that no man of the degraded castes 
might enter a village before a.m. or after 4 p.m.. less the slanting 
rays of the sun should cast his shadow across the path of a Urahniin. 



however, to find a clearer example of what it really means 
than the following account, given by a Hindu reformer, 
Pundit Rambhaj Dutt, of his efforts to raise the depressed 
classes in the Punjab, whom the barbers refused to shave 
and who were forbidden to draw water from the wells 
which the higher castes regarded as their exclusive property : 

"The Pundit's first difficulties were with the people whom he 
was striving to heljj. Tliey suspected him of mercenary motives, 
and declined to have anj^thing to do with his propaganda. At 
the principal meeting at which he was to have opened his cam- 
paign not a single Dhoomna attended. But the Pundit was equal 
to the occasion. Instead of delivering his address, he at once 
betook himself to the quarters of the town in which the untouch- 
ables dwelt, and was able to induce many of them to follow him 
to the place of meeting. He assured them that he had no inten- 
tion of demanding money from them or of taking away their 
women, but that his sole object was to have their rights accepted 
by the higher castes. The Pundit went from shop to shop and 
from house to house appealing to the Hindus to admit the low 
castes to the privileges mentioned above, and his words seem to 
have carried conviction. In the presence of thousands of Hindu 
men and women the great work of shuddi or purification was per- 
formed on hundreds of the untouchables. 'For two days,' writes 
the Pundit, 'we went on shaving and purifying crowds of men, 
women and children. More than 1,400 were admitted into the 
Arya or Hindu community. We had distributed the twenty-seven 
razors which I had purchased for the purpose, while several bar- 
bers were working with their own razors.' But the most touching 
part of his account relates to the inception of the reform per- 
mitting the low castes to draw water from the wells of the village 
community. The Pundit called a meeting of the several bira- 
daries or caste groups, and, in moving language, prayed them to 
admit their low caste brethren to this privilege so vital in a tropi- 
cal country. His prayer was granted. In a body the whole as- 
sembly arose and proceeded to the heart of the Hindu quarter of 


Sujampur where the incidents related here took place. Thou- 
sands of Hindus stood round the well when the Pundit called upon 
one of the Dlioomna leaders to draw water from it. ^\^lat fol- 
lowed is best told in the Pundit's own words. 'It was too much 
for him. He took off his shoes, and with folded hands trembling 
with emotion he asked the biradari if he could really go up to 
the well. They cheerfully assented. I helped him up the stairs, 
and told him to ask their permission three times. He did so 
thrice, each time the permission was granted, the brotherhood be- 
coming more and more enthusiastic and full of feeling in their 
sympathetic reply to his petition. On this I asked the man to 
fall at the feet of the brotherhood who had raised him. He 
obeyed and drew water from the well amidst cheers.' " * 

This, be it noted, is not an event of fifty, twenty-five, 
or even ten years ago, but of the year of grace 1912; and 
there arc in India from fifty to sixty millions as abject as 
these Dhoomnas. 

In this case we see reform at work, as, indeed, it is in 
many quarters ; but it moves very slowly and with many 
relapses. Time out of mind, attempts have been made to 
expel the virus of caste from the Indian body politic ;f 
but often the sects which thought to abolish it have ended 
in tliemsclves becoming castes, as exclusive as all the rest. 
The founders of the Sikh religion declared against caste, 
with very little effect. Of the three sections of the Braluno 
Samaj, a reforming body founded by Rammohun Roy about 
18!30, only one does not recognize caste. The Arya 
Samaj, a 3'ounger and mucli more vigorous sect of re- 

• Times of India, September 11, 191 J. 

t Dr. Hoernle, however, points out that "Neither Buddhism nor 
Jninism represents a revolt against the tyranny of caste, but only against 
the caste exelusiveness of Hrahnihi ascetics; caste, as such, was fully 
acknowledged by them. The RiuUIhist or Jani priest only acted as the 
spiritual guide of his followers; for their religious and ceremonial ob- 
servances. Brahmin priests had always to be called in." 



formers, professes to reject caste altogether; but, says Sir 
Herbert Risley, "the preaching of members of the Samaj is 
in advance of their practice." I myself heard of a case in 
which the members of a local branch of the Samaj were 
violently excited bv the discovery that a chamar, or leather- 
worker, had intruded among them under false pretences. In 
another place, a leading member of the community declined 
to sit at table with me, not, it was explained, because he 
liimself had any objection, but because it might have scan- 
dalized the weaker brethren. The idea that the spread of 
railways, and the popular taste for railway travelling, tends 
to break down the barriers of caste, is, as we shall presently 
see, only partially true. 

As regards eating and drinking, it is said that in Bengal 
the restrictions have almost disappeared; but this is far 
from being the case elsewhere.* The Aryan Brotherhood 
in Bombay recently gave a dinner to which invitations 
were issued in deliberate disregard of caste distinctions, 
Sir Narayan Chandavarkar occupying the chair. The 
occasion was most harmonious, but many of the guests got 
into sad trouble with the pancliayais, or committees, of 
their castes. Apparently it was the presence of one man, 
known or suspected to be an "untouchable," that caused 
the scandal. Some of the offenders were "out-casted," 
others made their peace by doing penance, or in other 
words going through a particularly nasty process of puri- 
fication. f It is characteristic that in discussing this dinner 
one of the "Anglo- Vernacular" papers of Bombay approved 
it in an English article, but condemned it in its vernacular 

* It seems to be pretty commonly recognized that neither ice nor 
soda-water counts as water for the purpose of conveying pollution ; while 
biscuits and patent medicines are also exempted from the strict operation 
of caste rules. 

■f It includes swallowing a bolus composed of the ■pan^hagavya, the 
five products of the cow — milk, curds, ghee, urine and dung. 



columns. One of the evils of the present condition of 
affairs is that it engenders hypocrisy : lip-service to en- 
lightenment while the heart is still in the bondage of prej- 
udice, or (more commonly perhaps) conformity to social 
prejudice without any conviction behind it. 

But even in Bengal, though restrictions on the jus 
convivii may be almost extinct, the jus conubii is extending 
much more slowly — and this, of course, is a far more serious 
matter. For it is one of the gravest of India's many mis- 
fortunes that, while social custom makes marriage an im- 
perative obligation and celibacy a disgrace, caste sets nar- 
row bounds to the field of choice, and so leads to infant 
marriage, and the prohibition of widow re-marriage, not to 
mention darker, though less wide-spread, evils. In assuming 
these things to be evils, do I imply that Western ideas as to 
marriage and the relations of the sexes are the last word 
of social wisdom? Certainly not; no one doubts that in 
these matters our practices, and even our principles, stand 
in glaring need of amendment. But again, the "tu quoque" 
plea is of no avail. Our habits are not, like those of India, 
mere crystallizations of barbarism; and, even if they were, 
would that make the Indian habits any better.? In the 
Vedas there is no trace of infant marriage; free courtshijj 
of the modern type is recognized : and widow re-marriage 
is so far from being prohibited that there are special words 
for "a man who has married a widow," "a woman who 
has taken a second husband," "a son of a woman by her 
second husband." As for suttee — the burning of widows 
— there is some trace of its having existed in pre-Vedic 
times, and having been replaced by a symbolic and innocent 
ceremony. One passage in the Rig-Veda was made by the 
Brahmins to justify the practice: literally "made" by the 
deliberate alteration of the word Agre into Agne — "perhaps 
the most flagrant instance," says Mr. R. C. Dutt, "of what 



can be done by an unscrupulous priesthood." But the 
Vedic period had not long passed before all three practices 
were firmly established. The Laws of Manu prescribe that 
a man of thirty shall marry a girl of twelve, a man of 
twenty-four a girl of eight. The custom of ancestor- 
worship, the necessity of having an heir to do sraddha to 
your ghost, rendered marriage imperative ; while endogamy 
forced you to marry within your clan; exogamy (in many 
cases) forbade you to marry within 3'our group; and 
hyj>ergamy frequently (though not universally) forbade a 
girl to marry a man of a group lower than her own in social 
standing. It is not quite clear how the idea arose that to 
have a marriageable daughter unmarried was the direst of 
social reproaches ; but it can readily be understood that 
when once it was firmly rooted in the popular mind, a father 
would take no risks of finding a daughter left on his hands, 
and would be especially anxious to get her disposed of before 
she could possibly develop a will of her own. Where hj'per- 
gamy was added to the other difficulties of the marriage 
market, the birth of a daughter came to be regarded as a 
calamity ; whence the prevalence of female infanticide* in 
many parts of India, but particularly among the Rajputs. 
Nor is this an ancient horror, dragged from the archives 
of anthropology. Mr. E. A. Gait, the director of the 
Census of 1911, tells us that a friend of his was discussing 
with the Durbar of a native state the amount which ought to 
be expended on the marriage of the Chief's sister, and, as 
there was some difference of opinion, he asked how much 
had been spent on similar occasions in the past. "He was 
told in reply that there was no precedent. The girl was 
the first in the family that had been allowed to live!" The 

* The practice, however, is not entirely due to the artificial restrictions 
on marriage begotten of tlie caste system. There are clear traces of it 
in the Vedas. 


same authority goes on to say: "A middle-aged Punjabi 
gentleman reccntlj' told me that he had been compelled, as 
a boy, to assist at the murder of an infant sister, and that 
an aunt had had seven daughters and had killed them all." 
Even now infanticide is kept in check in Rajputana only by 
making things unpleasant for a village wliich cannot show 
a fair proportion of girls. I asked one of the officers who 
had taken the 1911 census in this district whether the prac- 
tice was really a thing of the past. "They vow and swear 
that it is," was his reply, "but the statistics are against 
them." That female cluldren are much neglected there is no 
doubt. "Girls," says I\Ir. Gait, "are neither so well-fed nor 
so well-clothed as boj's, nor, if they are ill, are they care- 
fully looked after. In Gujarat there is a proverb, 'The 
parents look after the boys and God looks after the girls.' "* 
The ban upon widow re-marriage is clearly due to the 
same cause as female infanticide: where it is so difficult, 
and at the same time so necessary, to get a girl married at 
once, it is naturall}' regarded as unfair that any woman 
should add to the glut in the wife-market by getting married 
twice. Suttee was, of course, a conclusive safeguard against 
widow re-marriage; but it was more than that. It was a 
sacrificial rite, comparable with the burA'ing of liis horse 
and arms along with a dead chieftain; it obviated all diffi- 
culties as to property and dower; and it was a useful 
deterrent for anj' lady who might be tempted to compass 
the death of her lord and master by witchcraft or poison. 
I do not know that the latter motive was ever avowed 
in India, as it is in some pai'ts of West Africa; but it is 
not in human nature that so obvious an advantage should 

* The exposure of female infants used to be very common in Bengal, 
where, too, the caste of Kiilin Brahmins used to make a profession of 
"marrying" girls by the score, and so relieving the parents of the 
reproach attaching to their celibacy. 



not have contributed to render the institution popular — 
with husbands. 

An unsympathetic Government made suttee illegal in 
1829; but it is said that cases of it still occur. In the 
matter of child-marriage, the Government is practically 
powerless, though in British territory the consummation of 
such a marriage before the wife has reached the age of 
twelve is now a penal offence. Enlightened Indian opinion 
is alive to the ph3'sical and moral evils arising from the 
practice, as well as to the cruelty of forbidding the re- 
marriage of widows, thousands of whom have never been 
wives. But enlightened opinion, in India, is pathetically 
powerless against the sheer inertia of immemorial habit. 
Moreover, qualified observers hold that the influence of rail- 
ways and the printing-press is helping the ingrained snob- 
bery of caste to introduce these abuses into social strata 
which were formerly innocent of them. 

"The strength of the Hinduizing movement," says Sir Herbert 
Risley, "has been greatly augmented by the improvement of com- 
munications. People travel more, pilgrimages can be more easily 
made, and the influence of the orthodox section of society is thus 
much more widely diffused." And again: "The extension of rail- 
ways which indirectly diffuses Brahmanical influence; the ten- 
dency to revive the authority of the Hindu scriptures, and to find 
in them the solution of modern problems; and the advance of 
vernacular education which increases the demand for popular 
versions of and extracts from these writings — these are among 
the causes which, in my opinion, are tending on the one hand to 
bring about the more rigid observance of the essential incidents 
of caste, especially of those connected with marriage, and on the 
other to introduce greater laxity in respect of the minor injunc- 
tions which are concerned with food and drink." 

Imitation of the higher by the lower castes being "the 
ultimate law of the caste system," and child marriage and 


widow non-niarriagc being tokens, from of old, of social 
distinction, they are thought to be spreading in India, very 
much as the habit of dining in evening dress is spreading in 
Kngland. Can enlightened opinion make head against such 
a tendency? 

One would answer in the affirmative with greater con- 
fidence if enlightened opinion were not so afraid of its own 
enlightenment, and so determined to make out that — a few 
trifling defects apart — Hindu civilization is on. the whole 
the most exalted and enviable the world has ever seen. 
One cannot but be a little sceptical of the regeneration that 
is to be founded on such very imperfect conviction of sin. 

I take up a book entitled Hindu Progress (1904), con- 
sisting of "Papers collected and edited by N. Subbarau 
Pantulu Garu, B.A., B.L., Fellow of the Madras University, 
and formerly Member of the Legislative Council, Madras." 
The fourth of the twenty essays included in this work is 
entitled "The Aims of Hindu Social Life," by :Mr. N. 
Ramanujachariar, M.A. In it I read: 

"Every one who has in any way studied ancient India with 
profit knows how well and harmoniously this mighty and complex 
social organization of the Hindus lias worked for thousands of 
years, and how it has always tended to help on peace, order and 
progress. Can the history of the world point out one other in- 
stance of a social organization which has worked so successfully 
for so long a time.' Even to-day it is as full of strength and 
vitality as it was in ancient times. But owing to various causes, 
internal and external, it is not now in perfect working order." 

Before such an utterance of inveterate and insensate 
racial vanity, one is almost tempted to despair. The social 
organization of India "tended to help on peace;" yet the 
country was, from the beginning of history, and almost 
without respite, torn by cruel wars. The social organiza- 



tion promoted "order:" yet, from sheer lack of any ap- 
proach to order, India fell into the hands of a European 
trading company, who had to crush whole armies* of 
marauders, and to put down, with great diiBculty, organized 
dacoity and the amiable religion of the Thugs. The social 
organization made for "progress :" yet, in another mood, the 
panegyrists of Hinduism will mourn the decay and disap- 
pearance of the splendid civilizations of the past; while the 
evidences, if not of decline, at least of age-old stagnation, 
are written broad over the face of the land. The social 
organization has worked with unexampled "success :" yes, 
if it be a sign of success to render the country incapable 
of self-defence or self-direction, and to subject her for a 
thousand years to the domination of one foreign conqueror 
after another. If Mr. Ramanujachariar represents the 
frame of mind of the friends of "Hindu progress" — and he 
not unfairly represents a considerable section of them — one 
can only wonder what may be the mental attitude of those 
who are not friends of progress, but conservatives. Truly 
there seems to be some ground for the opinion of many who 
know the Indian character well, that if British rule were 
withdrawn to-da}', sutteef would be revived to-morrow. 

* Literally armies — sometimes as many as 30,000 men, horse, foot 
and artillery, attached to no state or government, and openly living on 

t Many educated Indians look back to suttee with pride and a sort 
of sentimental regret. Note the spirit in which it is treated in The 
Prince of Destiny, a Drama of India, by Sarath Kumar Ghosh. I was 
at first inclined to regard the opinion that suttee would revive on the 
withdrawal of the British, as an irresponsible suggestion to which little 
weight was to be attached; but further inquiry has led me to modify 
this view. Sir Bampfylde Fuller, a close and competent observer, who 
always weighs his words, says that "bej-ond all doubt" suttee is "popu- 
lar," and would be revived at the first opportunity. (Studies in Indian 
Life and Sentiment, p. 161.) Tlie recent suicide by burning of several 
Bengali girls points ia. the same direction. 


A similar, though less extravagant, strain of ultra- 
conservative liberalism runs through a recent speech of the 
Honourable the Maharajadhiraja Bahadur of Burdwan, at 
the opening of the ninth All-India Kshattrya (Warrior- 
Caste) Conference at Agra. The Maharaja, I should state, 
is not a ruling prince, but a great land-owning potentate. 
He speaks severely of several members of the Kshattrya 
community who, in marrying their children, "ignored the 
resolutions that we have been carrj'ing year after year 
about the curtailment of expenditure, the restriction of 
'nautches,' and the avoidance of fireworks at marriage fes- 
tivities." He deplores with evident sincerity "the ignorance 
of the uneducated among us, and of the poor unfortunate 
women of our community from whom enlightenment has been 
withheld." He urges the removal of barriers to intermar- 
riage between sub-sections of the caste. 

"In all this," he says, "I am witli you. But for God's sake 
don't go further. What I advocate is not mixed marriages. I 
only mean taking into our fold Ksliattryas of ever}' grade and 
subcastc, whilst the other means a deluge. It means sowing the 
seeds of confusion and chaos. ... If you lean too much on the 
delicate reed of social emancipation of the West, you will go un- 
der, you will eventually be committing a racial suicide, so great, 
so stupendous, that I tremble even to think of it. I therefore 
say. brethren, advance, but advance cautiously: but, on the other 
hand, revive the glories of the past." 

Alas for those "glories of the past" ! They are like to 
prove a terrible liindrance to the gi'eatness of the future.* 
Tlie Hindu who could persuade his countrymen to listen 

• The Rev. C. F. .\iulrews, a writer animated by the most ardent 
sympathy with India's national aspirations, snys that some years ago 
"a paralysing recollection of India's greatness in the past took the place 
of hopi-ful optimism in the jiresent." I hope he is right in thinking that 
the paralysis is passing away. 



to the plain truth about the past would do more for swaraj 
than any number of political declaimers. 

Not, of course, that one would ignore the inherent diffi- 
culties of the case, or look for a sudden and general aban- 
donment of secular tradition. It is neither surprising nor 
discouraging that the mass of the people should move very 
slowly, if at all, towards a saner social system ; the discour- 
aging part of the matter is that the enlightened classes 
should be so half-hearted in their enlightenment. With con- 
servatism in religion one can feel a good deal of sympathy. 
It is even possible that many people do, as a matter of fact, 
penetrate the rather revolting husk of Hinduism, interpret 
allegorically its multitudinous idolatry, and cling to the lofty 
spiritual creed which is understood to lurk behind it. But 
where is the spiritual substratum of caste? What sympathy 
can we feel with conservatism in infant marriage* — that 
practice whereby "a cliild awakens to conscious life — mar- 
ried"? What respect for the habit of mind, which, ad- 
mitting that there are a few little adjustments to be made, 
yet defends and even boasts of the Indian social system as a 
whole? There was, indeed, something to be said for caste so 
long as it was not caste : before it took on the characteristics 
which now give the word its meaning. But these character- 

* Though the modern tendency is, no doubt, to make boy and girl 
marriage equivalent to our betrothal, and postpone cohabitation until 
the parties are at any rate well in their teens, the fact remains that, in 
many parts of the country, "girls become mothers at the very earliest 
age that is physically possible." Deussen, an observer more than willing 
to make the best of e%erything Indian, writes, "The actual married life 
begins too early for the girls, before the bodies have attained a sufficient 
power of resistance. The consequence is that, not only do the women 
fade very quickly, pine and die, but they bring very delicate children 
into the world; and this, with the absence of animal food, is probably 
the chief reason why the Indian, though not less intelligent, is both 
physically and mentally unable to compete with the European." My 
Indian Reminiscences, p. 82. 


istics, and the social habits ensuing from them, are nothing 
more nor less than a disease of the body politic; and the 
frank recognition of this fact is the beginning of wisdom 
for every Indian who wishes his country to take rank among 
the great nations of the future. 

I once asked one of the leading European Hinduizers, 
why it was that the writings of that school contained, so 
far as I could see, no outspoken condemnation of caste. 
The reply ran thus : 

"I do not think the four great castes stand in the way of na- 
tional growth. Caste has become inflexible, and there lies its 
evil: if it regained the flexibilitj' of its earlier days, so that men 
might change their caste, it would be very useful. Class is rigid 
in Germany: the nobles do not inter-marry with the bourgeoisie 
or the peasantry, yet Germany has very strong national feeling. 
As to Hinduism at large, I laid much stress, in past years, upon 
its greatness, because it was vitally necessary to implant self- 
respect in the people; without this no building of a nation was 

To this interesting utterance, there are three pretty obvi- 
ous rejoinders: (1) Flexible caste, with penetrable partitions, 
would no longer be caste, but simply class in the European 
sense of the word. (2) Not in Germany alone, but through- 
out Europe, intcr-f/o*s marriages arc of doubtful advantage, 
because marked differences of education and social tradition 
are not conducive to married happiness. But it is no such 
consideration which forbids intcr-caste marriages in India. 
It is simply an inveterate clinging to rules, for the germs of 
which the anthropologist may discover some justification in 
the dim dawn of society, but which have long hardened into 
a rigid system of prejudice, quite out of touch with reason. 
(3) As for the implanting of self-respect in the people, that, 
if we take "self-respect" in its higher sense, is eminently 



desirable. But I very much fear that the efforts of Euro- 
pean sympathizers have tended rather to the fostering of 
self-esteem and self-glorification, which need no outside 

At a congress of pundits, held a few months ago at 
Conjeevarani, in Southern India, the following views were 
elicited : 

"On the question of sea voyage, eighteen pundits held that sea 
voyage is sinful in itself, t\venty-seven were of opinion that it 
becomes sinful only under special circumstances, and one pundit 
only decreed that it is not sinful at all. On the question of post- 
puberty marriage for Brahmin girls, eight pundits declared that 
the Shastras prescribe such marriages; twenty-one pundits were 
of opinion that the}- are permitted by the Shastras under certain 
circumstances for a period of three or four years after puberty; 
while seven held that the Shastras prohibit post-puberty mar- 

It is said that the comparatively limited support (in money 
at any rate) given in India to the movement on behalf of 
the Indians in South Africa is due to the fact that so many 
Hindus have no sympathy with the man who sacrifices his 
caste by crossing the kala pani (black water) and settling 
in the land of the Mlechclms. 

So long as the thoughts of a people are seriously pre- 
occupied with such considerations as these: so long as they 
make a religion of snobbery, and a moral obligation of 
practices from which science and conunon sense alike revolt : 
so long as even their educated and thinking classes are more 
or less prone to regard with complacency all that is most 
barbarous and disastrous in their historic record: can it be 
said that that people is ready to take rank on equal terms 
with the intelligent and civilized nations of the world.' I 
do not see how any unprejudiced person can answer this 


question in tlie affirmative. It is true that there are vices 
and stupidities among the nations of tlie West from whicli 
the Hindu is comparatively free; but tiiat is rather because 
tiiey do not come in his way tiian because he rises superior 
to tlicm. It might be argued that a people may as well 
be pre-occupied with caste as with "sport"; but such a 
sophism will scarcely bear examination. Sport is, after all, 
a distraction of a minority, though a large one; it is not 
the essence of the national religion. It may be, in many 
cases, a more or less deleterious distraction ;* it may be a 
by-product and symptom of undesirable social conditions ; 
but it has also its good and healthful aspects, and, at 
worst, it is not incompatible with very high intelligence in 
the sci'ious business of life. Caste is, to many millions of 
Indians, the most serious thing in life, and pre-occupation 
with its incidents and accessories is the very negation of 
intelligence. What people can hold its own in the struggle 
for existence which has not tlic mental energy to shake off 
such an ancestral obsession.' 

I should be disposed to accept the success of the social 
reform movement as a very fair test of India's moral and 
intellectual regeneration. In freeing herself from caste 
and its subsidiary evils, she will give the best possible proof 
of her fitness for political enfranchisement. But she will 
never work out her salvation while she continues to think 
and talk in this strain: "Ours is the eternal ideal of spiritual 
perfection for the individual and for humanity ; and there 
is not the least fear that the nation wliich has been working 
for the last six thousand years and more towards the 
achievement of such an aim . . . will ever die so long as it 
clings firmly to its great social ideal." 

* If the Hindu is not a "sportsman" it is not because he lacks the 

gambling instinct. Kven the risliis of the Vedas acknowledged the 
irresistible fascination of the dice-box. 

' [109] 



Of the Europeans who visit India, probably three-fourths 
land at the Apollo Bunder, Bombay. As they stand on that 
famous wharf, they see adjoining it on their right a 
rambling, gabled building, with a pleasant lawn and a tall 
flagstaff in front of it, looking out, from a position of great 
advantage, over the noble harbour. This is the Yacht Club, 
one of the chief centres of social life in Bombay ; and 
(except servants) no one of Indian birth, not even the 
Rajput prince or the Parsi millionaire, may set foot across 
its threshold. The same rule obtains at the Byculla Club; 
an Indian who was appointed to a post which had always 
carried with it an almost ex-officio membership of the club, 
was nevertheless excluded. On the other hand, as you drive 
round the Back Bay to Malabar Hill, you pass the unpre- 
tending but conmiodious home of the Orient Club, which has 
recently been founded for the express purpose of bringing 
Indians and Europeans together. Many European officials 
frequent it as a point of duty, and meet on equal terms 
their Indian colleagues, and the leaders of the commercial 
world of Bombay, Parsi, Hindu and Muhammadan. It is, 
I understand, a fairly successful institution ;* but it is not 

* Some one has called it the true Byculla (bi-colour) Club of Bombay. 
Mr. Price Collier dined at the Orient Club in a mixed company of Indians 
and Europeans, almost equally divided; and he records that "problems 
of government and politics were discussed as freely as they would have 
been in Xew York or London." 


as a point of duty that all official Bombay crowds to the 
Yacht Club on the afternoon of mail-day. 

There you have a picture in little of social conditions in 
India — of the great gulf fixed between the races, and of the 
strenuous efforts that arc being made to bridge it. 

The natural tendency of the liberal-minded, stay-at-home 
Briton is to exclaim upon the racial exclusiveness which 
makes the Yacht Club forbidden ground even to princes and 
potentates of the most ancient lineage and the most culti- 
vated manners. But we must take human nature as it is, 
and not harshly blame the instinct which makes English- 
men, who are day by day immersed to the eyes in Indian 
interests and aff'airs, hunger for one little spot where they 
can, for an hour or two, entirely shut out the obsession of 
the Orient. Every club in India is a little England, repro- 
ducing exactly the interests, the comforts and the vulgar- 
ities of an English club;* and it is, I repeat, only human 
nature to desire that it should remain a little England, and 
not become a little India. Moreover — and here lies the 
most serious difficulty — all, or almost all, Indian clubs admit 
ladies as well as men, and arc common ground to the two 
sexes. Is it desirable that ladies should be brought into 
frequent contact with men whose own womenfolk are jeal- 
ously secluded, and who in their hearts despise the unveiled 
Western woman? No doubt there arc many Indian (espe- 
cially Parsi) ladies in Bombay who are not "purdah"; but it 
would be ridiculous, and it would not help matters, to make 
a rule to the eff"ect that "Indian gentlemen may be admitted 
to clubs on condition that they are accompanied by their 
wives." Let us own, then, that it is no mere insensate arro- 
gance which draws the colour line at the threshold of the 
Yacht Club and other institutions of a like nature. 

"The lowest sporting papers must owe to Iiuliii a large part of their 



But let us own, too, that such a drawing of tlie colour 
line must be inexjiressibU' galling to a proud and sensitive 
people, who see their alien rulers, when the business of 
"running the country" is over, withdraw into impregnable 
caste-strongholds, with the almost openly-confessed design 
of washing their hands of India, and returning in spirit to 
their island home. The club is a far more irritating mark 
of subjection than the cantonment. 

The better sort of British official feels the drawbacks of 
the situation acutely, and is unwearied in his efforts to 
diminish them. Aided sometimes (not always) by his 
womenfolk, he tries to establish some reasonable system 
of social intercourse with liis Indian colleagues and sub- 
ordinates. Now and then he succeeds in a certain measure ; 
but he has two great difficulties to encounter: obstinate 
prejudice among the stupider members of his own race, and 
the domestic arrangements and traditions of the other race. 
Very often the personal relations between British officials 
and their Indian assistants are excellent — relations of sin- 
cere mutual respect and friendsliip. But the attempt to 
carry these relations from official into social life is generally 
a laborious failure.* It is almost impossible for the average 
memsahib to get upon human terms with the average un- 
educated purdah woman. Even if the language difficulty be 
overcome, the three common topics — dress, jewels and 
babies — are soon exhausted. A few Western women have no 
doubt a genius for getting "behind ■ the Indian veil ;" but 

* Let it be noted, however, that if our attempts at social intercourse 
are not brilliantly successful, between the different sections of Indian 
society no such attempts are made at all. "There is less social inter- 
course," writes H. H. the Aga Khan, "between Muhammadan and Hindu 
or between Rajput and Parsi than between any of these races and the 
English in India. . . . Englishmen, and Englishmen alone, receive and 
have friends among all classes and races." National Reriew, February, 


they are rare at best, and they seldom happen to be the 
wives of collectors or commissioners. 

Two little experiences of my own may be cited in illus- 
tration of these social difficulties. A higii-caste Hindu 
gentleman, well up in the Government service, invited me 
to visit his house — thereby siiowing, of course, great liberal- 
ity of spirit. He even introduced me to his wife, a pleasant- 
featured lady, no longer young, wearing in iier left nostril 
a sort of little aigrette of rubies and emeralds. It would 
ill become me to repay his kindness by a detailed criticism 
of his "interior"; but every moment of the half-hour I spent 
in it brought home to me tlie world-wide difference of stand- 
ards — in ventilation, freshness, decoration, comfort, tilings 
material and things spiritual — between this civilization and 
ours. How impossible it was to imagine any Englishwoman, 
not violently prepossessed, like "Sister Nivedita," in favour 
of everything Indian, getting into comfortable social rela- 
tions with the mistress of this mansion ! It is not a question 
of superiority or inferiority, but simply (as I have said) 
of world-wide difference. Very likely the devotions done by 
the Brahmin lady at the altar in her back yard, with its 
little pot of basil, may have more of spiritual quality than 
whatever e.xercises of a like nature the collector's or the 
colonel's wife may indulge in. The decorations of her 
salon — a frieze of garish Geniian colour-prints of Siva, and 
Parvati, and Rama and Sita, and other divine personages, 
all elaborately "tinselled" by the ladies of the family — may 
perhaps express as much artistic feeling as Ihe Tottenham 
Court Road photogravures that adorn most of the bunga- 
lows of the neighbouring civil station. For my part, I have 
no overpowering admiration for Western culture as it com- 
monly manifests itself in India. But whether it be liigher 
or lower, it is irreconciiabi}- different from the culture 
of the East. I could not but feel in this higii-caste house- 



hold that any attempt at social intercourse between it and 
the European households of the station must be an elaborate 
and laborious hvpocris}-, however admirable might be the 
spirit prompting it. 

There are, in Calcutta, Bombay and elsewhere, a certain 
number of emancipated and highly cultivated Indian families 
with whom social intercourse is a privilege and a pleasure. 
The difficulty in their case is that one is apt to feel like 
a semi-barbarian intruder upon an abode of ancient, fine- 
spun, aristocratic culture. One begins to realize the force 
of Arnold's lines: 

"The brooding East with awe beheld 
Its impious younger world — " 

— only that "awe"' is perhaps not quite the emotion with 
which these grave Orientals regard our Western crudities. 
But such households are as drops in the ocean of Indian 
life. They show what might be and may be; but they are 
immeasurablj- removed from the general level of what is. 

M}- second little experience may be more briefly narrated. 
I had the pleasure of spending some days with a British 
official of high rank who makes it a rule to exclude from 
his kitchen all pork, bacon and other products of the pig, 
in order that his ^luhammadan subordinates may be able 
at any time to lunch or dine with him, without fear of 
partaking of any forbidden dish. As a matter of fact, I 
met at his table two Muhammadan members of his staff, 
who were evidently quite at their ease among their Euro- 
pean colleagues. Here was an admirable instance of real, 
unforced, social intercourse. But two things have to be 
noted. First, it was Muslims, not Hindus, who joined in 
the pleasant repast ; second, our host was a bachelor. 

There has been a great improvement, beyond a doubt, 
in the manners of Europeans towards servants and lower- 


class Indians in geneal. The days arc long past when 
the memsahib could send a khitmutgar to the cantonment 
magistrate with a chit : "Please give bearer a dozen" — 
laslies understood — knowing that the order would be exe- 
cuted without inquiry. I have heard an official — a civilian, 
I am sorry to say — cite admiringly John Nicholson's 
(alleged) exploit of tying a tehsildar to a well and making 
him turn the wheel for twenty-four hours, an orderly with 
a cat-o'-nine-tails standing over him the while. But this 
was narrated with fond regret, as a trait of the good old 
days never to return : "You couldn't do such a thing now — > 
you'd be broke." Outrageous domineering and brutality are 
now very rare. 

In the course of six months' pretty constant travelling, 
I came across only two mild cases of bad manners. The 
offender in one instance was a Scotch commercial-traveller 
or insurance-agent. At tiffin at a Madras hotel, he took 
it into his head that the waiter had brought him too small 
a plate for his salad, though, for my part, I could see 
nothing wrong with the crockery. After angrily ordering 
the man — who was twice his age and three times as dignified 
in appearance and bearing — to bring him another plate, he 
fell to badgering him in this strain : "Now, why couldn't 
you have done that at first, boy? * Just because you were 
too lazy, hey.'"' — and so on till he was tired. The waiter 
listened with imperturbable calm, and was, for the moment 
at any rate, immeasurably the better man of the two. On 
the other occasion, a dyspeptic officer lost his temper, very 
foolishly, because of the failure of a refreshment-room 

* The habit of addressing waiters as "boy" is greatly to be deprecated. 
It is not originally Indian, I believe, but has crept in from China, where 
it is much less offensive. I heard an American woman address a 
cashier in Cook's office at Calcutta as "boy"; but this, I think, was a 
mere slip of the tongue. She was hurried aiul "rattled." 



attendant to understand his order — of course a frequent 
cause of friction.* These were tiae only instances of bad 
manners that came to my notice. f On the other hand, I 
heard on unquestionable authority of several cases in which 
low-class unofficial Europeans, or (unfortunately) young 
subalteras fresh from England, had treated even high-caste 
Indians with monstrous bumptiousness, scarcely stopping 
short of violence. There is a general feeling among civilians 
that the military authorities do not show sufficient sense 
of the enormity of such conduct on the part of young 
officers. A gross manifestation of ignorant arrogance will 
be visited, perhaps, with a little stoppage of leave. It is 
greatly to be desired that, before they come to India at all, 
officers should go through a brief course of instruction as 
to the country entrusted (in part) to their guardianship, 
and should have it impressed upon them that in order to 
be sahibs they need not, and indeed must not, cease to be 
gentlemen. J I have read an earnest and admirable circular 
addressed by the Government of India to the Civil Service, 
urging the cultivation of a scrupulously "courteous and 
considerate demeanour towards aU with whom they are 
brought in contact. "§ 

* "There goes my lord the Feringhee, who talks so civil and bland. 
Till he raves like a soul in Jehannum if I don't quite understand." 

LyaU: The Old Pindaree. 

1 1 once heard, in England, a young man in the Indian police speak- 
ing of the "natives" in brutal and indefensible terms. He took a very 
pessimistic view of our position in India; as weU he might, if there 
were many officers of his stamp in the services. 

} It is agreed on all hands that the relations between British officers 
and the Indian officers and men of Indian regiments are generally ex- 
cellent. Many people hold, indeed, that it is a great advantage to 
members of the "political" (as distinct from the civil) service that 
they should have passed through the Indian army, and thus acquired a 
special understanding and appreciation of the Indian character. 

§ In an article published in 1914 Mrs. Besant gave many instances 
of gross rudeness and violence on the part of Europeans towards In- 


But however we may deplore the bad manners of the 
past, and survivals in the present of a bad tradition, it is 
only fair to remember that in our worst excesses of arro- 
gance we were only "doing at Rome as the Romans did." 
When Burke inveighed against "the despotic style, 
the extreme insolence of language and demeanour used" by 
Warren Hastings "to a person of great condition among 
the politest people in the world," he was indulging beyond 
all measure his gift of idealization. "Polite," in liis day, 
had a wider meaning than in ours ; but, in this context at 
any rate, it must be taken as including our narrow meaning. 
It would seem that nothing less than a frenzy of partisan- 
ship could make that people the politest in the world which 
had, in the caste system, elaborated arrogance into a science 
and elevated it into a religion. On the inhuman insolence of 

dians, some of the cases of rudeness (but not of violence) having come 
within the writer's own observation. It makes one's blood boil to 
read of such incidents as the following: "Lately in Madras an Indian 
nobleman, fearing to miss his train, drove his car swiftly past an Eng- 
lishman's. The Englishman followed him to the station, insulted him, 
struck him and kicked liini so seriously that the Indian was lifted help- 
less into the train; he summoned tlie Englishman and a paltry fine was 
inflicted. The ex-sheriif of Bombay was assaulted as he approached 
a ladies' carriage to speak to his wife; he summoned his assailant; and 
the man apologized and was let off. Such cases are innumerable. Sen- 
tences of whipping for trivial thefts are constantly inflicted on coolies, 
and in one case recently, where a little tobacco was stolen by a railway 
coolie, he was sentenced to be flogged, and was flogged in the magis- 
trate's office by the magistrate himself, according to the testimony of 
several respectable Indians. He was 'severely reprimanded,' but remains 
on the Bench. A coolie, struck by his master, died; a fine was inflicted, 
as 'there was only one blow, and it was not meant to kill.'" If Mrs. 
Besant can substantiate these accusations, and others, she would do a 
great service by giving them such prominence that the Government of 
India should be forced to take cognisance of them. The situation is 
complicated by the fact that young Indians are sometimes guilty of 
deliberately provocative behaviour; but that is all the more reason why 
European brutality should be sternly checked. 



caste what need is there to dwell? Something has been said 
of it in the foregoing chapter. I take, almost at random, 
from the report of the 1901 Census, the following quatrain, 
expressive, it is said, of the contempt of the up-country 
Brahmins for men of their own caste who had migrated to 

"This is Chhattisgarh, where the Gond is king of the jungle, 
Under his bed is a fire, for he cannot pay for a blanket, 
Nor for a hookah indeed — a leaf-pipe holds his tobacco: 
Kick him soundly first, and then he will do what you tell him." 

One would say that the whole spirit of the swashbuckling 
white ruffian toward the lowest African "nigger" breathed 
in these lines ; yet Sir Herbert Risley's comment is un- 
doubtedly just, that they "reflect the intolerant and domi- 
neering attitude of the Indo-Aryan towards the Dravidian, 
of the high-caste man towards the low, that has been char- 
acteristic of Indian societ}' from the earliest times down to 
the present day." Where such a spirit prevailed between 
Indian and Indian, is it wonderful that the relations between 
the European and the Oriental were not alwaj's regulated 
by the most scrupulous courtesy.'' 

Perhaps it may be said that when impoliteness becomes 
a religion it ceases to be impolite : in the spirit of that 
atrocious line of Dante's : 

E cortesia fii lui esser villano. 

I have not actually come across this plea, but should not 
be at all surprised to find it in the works of the India- 
worshippers.* It must not be supposed, however, that caste 

* In The Weh of Indian Life (p. 46) "Sister Xivedita" enlarges on 
Indian courtesy: no doubt justly, as regards the domestic life of certain 
castes. A man, she admits, will always take precedence of a woman pass- 
ing through a door; but this is because they "maintain the tradition of 


is responsible for the whole of the mannerlessness of Indian 
life. It is at the root of a good deal of it, no doubt; but I 
think it may be taken as a general rule that the amenities 
of social behaviour do not greatly flourish anywhere among 
low-class Orientals. I am doubtful whether an exception 
should be made for the Japanese. When they exist, Oriental 
manners are magnificent: but in the intercourse of the 
masses of the people, they are apt not to exist. I am not 
assuming that they are always conspicuous among the 
masses of Europe. I am making no comparison, but simply 
stating what I take to be a fact. Beside the two instances 
I have mentioned of objectionable conduct on the part of 
Europeans, I could place numberless instances of over- 
bearing rudeness and hustling aggressiveness on the part of 
Indians towards Indians. These are, indeed, the everyday 
incidents of travel. Mr. Price Collier bears witness to the 
same effect. He says that in the course of all his wander- 
ings he saw no cases of rudeness, except on the part of 
minor railway officials towards travellers of their own race. 
"Once," he says, "sometime after midnight, I saw an English 
officer pile out of his carriage in iiis pyjamas and slippers, 
and soundly berate a native official who was bullying a 
third-class native woman passenger." 

I shall not, I hope, be suspected of palliating bad manners 
and brutality. I merely recall to mind a fact which is 
sometimes forgotten — namely, that the domineering ten- 
dencies of the past, which to some extent survive in the 
present, were indigenous rather than imported. The trouble 
was that the British official and soldier became too much 
Orientalized. So far as I can discover, after pretty dili- 

the path-breaker in tlic junple." I do ntrt pretend that tliere is any 
importance in our eonventional rule of "ladies first" — I merely note tliis 
as an amusing example of the ingenuity whieh has been applied to the 
ennoblement of every slightest trait of Indian manners. 



gent inquiry, they found in the Indian languages no forms 
of politeness ready to hand — no "please" or "thank you," 
or "I beg your pardon." Formulas of servility and adu- 
lation existed in plenty, but of ordinary courtesy, none. 
This may seem a very trifling matter, but it is not. These 
little phrases are invaluable lubricants of social intercourse, 
whether between equals or between superior and inferior. 
Some languages are better supplied with them than English ; 
and one misses them sadly on returning to England from a 
country — I have Norway specially in mind — in which they 
are more abundant. In the country where they are abso- 
lutely lacking, there is no such thing as a request — there 
are only orders. What wonder if "Jo hookum," — "As 
ordered," — is the constant burden of the intercourse be- 
tween Indians and Europeans.'' And what wonder if the 
awakening national spirit of India resents it? 

Here again I suggest that a vast improvement would be 
effected if we could rid our minds of the superstition that 
British rule is and must be a failure if it aims at anything 
short of an adamantine eternity. Not the least of the evil 
results ensuing from that habit of thought is the notion 
that we must constantly pose as conquerors among a con- 
quered people — a notion peculiarly prevalent, it is only fair 
to say, among bagmen, and sliipping-clerks, and other 
haughty spirits of the type of my Madras compatriot. 
I have seen traces of it, too, among very young men of a 
better class. Once, in an out-of-the-way region, I en- 
countered a young civil-engineer, the only European for 
many miles around, who invited me to his bungalow and 
treated me most hospitably, like the nice bo}' he was. But, 
perhaps because I did not take my fair share of the bottle 
of hock he produced in my honour, he became, certainly not 
drunk, but a little loquacious ; and I shall never forget the 
comedy of liis conversation with the station-master, as I 



waited for my midniglit train. No Viceroy could have been 
more condescending, or could have imposed his commands 
on the official with a loftier superiority. I remember, too, 
that lie gravely remonstrated with me for carrying a small 
handbag, instead of giving it to my servant — thereby low- 
ering the prestige of the ruling race. It was a case of 
in vino Veritas — without at all impairing his self-control, 
the liock had simply released the instinct of racial master- 
dom which he had brought with him from England, only a 
year before, and which had no doubt been fostered by the 
tone he found prevalent among other young men of his class. 
His fresh rapture of autocracy was innocent enough, so far 
as it went that night ; and it would very likely wear ofF as he 
advanced in years and discretion. But there are too many 
irresponsible (and some responsible) Anglo-Indians in whom 
it docs not wear off. 

Such an Anglo-Indian is the autiior of a letter which 
appeared in the Civil and Military Gazette (tlie leading 
paper of the Punjab) on September 5, 1906 — a letter 
signed, I regret to say, "Sagittarius." 

I take no alarmist view (says the writer), but regard the whole 
subject calmly and rationally. Not only myself but many others 
must surely see daily the increasing impertinence, disrespect, offi- 
ciousness (!) and disloyalty of the subject race. I wish to lay 
special emphasis on the words subject race, for the native of 
India, be his position and salary what it may, should and must 
understand tliat British blood has conquered India and rules it, 
and respect and deference must be shown to it at all times and 
in all places. 

This is only one of a number of similar utterances wjiich 
appeared in the Civil and Military about the same time, 
and did incalculable harm — as the conductors of the paper 
have realized and tacitly admitted. Here are one or two 



more specimens: "Let the Babus clearly understand that 
we have admitted them into the administration as our 
servants, not as our partners. A partnership between 
Europeans and natives there must inevitably be," but it 
must be "with the ruling classes, not with the servule 
classes." Again: "Already discerning people in England 
must be beginning to see that even half-a-dozen princely 
Counsellors of the intellectual type of the Maharaja of 
Bikanir would be worth a whole parUament of babbling 
B.A.'s." Yet again — from a letter signed "Fifty Years in 
India": "When SwadesMsm degenerates into ruffianism, un- 
veiled disloyalty and racial antagonism, I say again, 
'Sjambok!' " Pretty sort of writing this to mitigate 
"racial antagonism!"* 

* Perhaps the worst, or at any rate the silliest of these effusions, was 
the following jibe at the extremely popular national song of Bengal, 
"Hail to the Motherland": 


(By Autoltccs). 

I love my Aryan brother, 

And I love to see him gay — 
It's nice to watch him hard at work, 

And nicer still at play: 
As David danced before the Ark 

(While thinldng out a psalm). 
So doth Bengal 
Nautch at the call 

Of "Bande Mataram." 

Why should the "Raj" attempt to stay 

Such pure innocuous foUy? 
A puny thing of froth and fat 

(Half "dhoti" — quarter "brolly") 
No more accords the ruling race 

An obsolete "Salaam," 
But— better still — 
With organ shrill 

Cries "Bande Mataram." 



The senseless swagger of such utterances is directly due 
to the idea that we have some sort of providential mandate 
to rule India for ever and a day, and that our right is 
founded, not on administrative capacity, but on an inborn 
genius for despotism, in which every white-skinned shop-boy 
has his share. If we were encouraged by those who set the 
tone of Anglo-Indian thought to take a saner view of our 
position and responsibilities, this pitiful and mischievous 
racial snobbery would soon die out. The fact that it is 
in some measure due to the contagion of our Oriental en- 
vironment does not at all excuse it. If we are to justify 
our existence in India, it must be by our resistance to this 
contagion, to which all former invaders succumbed.* 

Moreover, if we could realize and admit that our relation 
to India was temporary, not eternal, we should be less dis- 
couraged by the scant success of our heroic efforts to lower 
existing social barriers. It is the false ideal of our status 
that makes our isolation seem inhuman. Those of us who 

Our English topsy-turvy rule 

Possesses humorous charms; 
Behold a race that bares Its legs. 

But never, sure, its arms! 
How can such children bother MEN? 

It really takes the palm 
To think that we 
Should care a D 

For "Bande Mataram." 

* The following passage from an article in the Asiatic Quarterly by 
Shaikh Abdul Qadir (April, 1906), is much to the point: "The European 
official in India, in the interests of the Empire, and in order to win the 
confidence of the people, should so act as not to show any assumption of 
a Divine right to rule, or any air of conscious supcrioritj', which, without 
strengthening his position, jars upon the susceptibilities of the people, 
I can quite imagine somebody oI)jectiiig to the view I have expressed, 
and saying: 'This must be some new sensitiveness that the Indians 
have developed, as tlieir fatliers rejoiced in honouring the rulers.' YeSj 
it is new, but it is there, and it has to be taken into account." 



give any thought to the matter know that two races cannot 
be locally intermingled in perpetuity without the smallest 
social or spiritual intermingling; so we strive to invent some 
form of social intercourse which shall make the situation 
a little less manifestly impossible. But in all such efforts 
there is a tacit "Thus far and no further" which renders 
them artificial and in great measure abortive. The real 
amalgamation wliich springs from inter-marriage is, by 
common consent, out of the question; and it is only in the 
rarest cases that anything like intimate equality of friend- 
ship is possible. Nor would it, if possible, be altogether 
desirable; for the strength of British administration lies in 
its superiority, not merely to pecuniary, but to personal 
influences. Another difficulty arises from the fact that those 
Indians who show themselves most accessible to social ad- 
vances from the British side, are not alwaj's the best or the 
most respected members of their own community. This view 
is stated, with some exaggeration, in a letter from a 
"Mussulman" which appeared in the Civil and Military 
Gazette at the time when racial relations were being dis- 
cussed in such an unfortunate tone by the correspondents of 
that paper. 

"Those Indians," he wrote, "who claim and crave admission to 
Anglo-Indian society are 'knaves' and 'fools ;' but I submit to 
Anglo-Indians — these knaves and fools are your creation. They 
are a detestable set; we Indians abhor them and call them de- 
generate. . . . They are the biggest snobs we have. They decry 
you when they come strutting to us, and they denounce us when 
they go cringing before you." 

This is clearly a somewhat intemperate, partisan out- 
burst; but it points to a real difficulty. No Indian, and 
especially no Hindu, can enter upon social relations with 
Europeans without in some degree derogating from the 


ideals of his race; and though he may be sincerely con- 
vinced that the ideals he renounces are false and noxious, 
he none the less lays liimself open to suspicion of currying 
favour with the ruling caste. 

I am far from suggesting that the efforts to place the 
two races on a better social footing should cease. I think 
they are of great educational value to both parties. But 
let us not fail to bear this in mind : if these efforts should 
ever meet with any large measure of success, it would mean 
that India no longer stood in need of alien tutelage. So 
soon as there is a large class of educated, emancipated 
Indians, fitted to take part on equal terms in European 
society, India will be fitted to take part on equal terms 
in the fellowship of the nations. I do not mean that fitness 
for self-government is necessarily to be tested by Euro- 
peanization of manners. It is quite possible that, when 
India awakens to the need for civilization,* she may take a 
line of her own, very different from that marked out for her 
by Europe. But if she does elect to make Europe her model, 
and succeeds in assimilating European manners and ideals, 
her success will constitute a conspicuous proof of her ability 
to work out her own salvation. 

Meanwhile, if we realize and admit that the two races 
arc not handcuffed together for all eternity, but only as- 
sociated for a ])nrticular purpose, the problem of their 
social relations loses much of its importance. It is when 
we take up the "Whom God hath joined, let no man put 
asunder" attitude that our failure to get into sj'mpatlietic 

* "Wlu'ii she awakens!" some readors may exclaim. "Is not her 
civilization tlic most ancient anil the noblest in the world !" It is pre- 
cisely because so many even of her educated men are deceived by this 
jiigplinp with the term "civilization" that I hold her to be very im- 
])erfe<"tly awakeneil to her most urgent needs. Rightly or wrongly (as 
readers who have followed me so far ni\ist realize) this is one of the 
cardinal jwinls of my whole contention. 



personal relations with our Indian fellow-citizens seems like 
failure in a crucial point of policy, if not of duty. One 
thinks of old Mrs. Baird's pity for "the chiel that's chained 
to oor Davie;" had that union been indissoluble, it would 
indeed have been of the first importance that the parties 
should get into some sort of human relation to each other. 
If, on the other hand, there is no question of eternity in 
the juxtaposition, we may without any sense of failure 
"admit impediment" to "the marriage of true minds." If we 
would but see ourselves in a realistic light, as persons called 
in to perform for certain other persons a set of services 
which, if honestly and capably rendered, must, in the nature 
of things, work themselves out and become unnecessary, we 
should find ourselves relieved, not, indeed, of social duties, 
but of the oppressive sense of their momentous importance 
and insurmountable difficulty. Here, in England, doctors, 
lawyers, architects, bankers, stockbrokers do not feel them- 
selves bound to become the personal cronies of their clients. 
It is only in a small minority of cases that professional 
relations lead to social intimacy ; nor does any professional 
man measure his success by the number of such cases in his 
own experience. We are, in India, simply professional men 
exercising certain protective, administrative, educative, con- 
structive functions; and it is only when, forgetting this, we 
pose as heaven-appointed affable archangels that we have 
any need to reproach ourselves with the incomplete success 
of our attempts at affability. 




The Abbe Dubois, that shrewd observer from whom I 
have already made several quotations, placed his finger, a 
century ago, upon the great difficulty of British rule in 
India. Though a Frenchman, writing at a time when the 
defeat of French ambitions in the East was still compara- 
tively recent, he was in every way friendly to an administra- 
tion which, as he said, "had freed the Indian people from 
the iron yoke of a long series of arbitrary rulers under 
whose oppression they groaned during so many centuries." 
But he added, with admirable insight or foresight: "It is 
the poverty of the country which, in my opinion, gives most 
cause for apprehension — a poverty which is accompanied 
by the most extraordinary supincness on the part of the 
people themselves. The question is, will a government which 
is rightly determined to be neither unjust nor oppressive be 
able always to find within the borders of tliis immense 
empire sufficient to enable it to meet the heavy expenses of 
its administration." This may seem to imply that good 
administration is necessarily more expensive than bad ; but 
the seeming paradox is easily resolved. 

Under a system of oppression and corruption, the cost 
of government is enormous, but undefined. The people 
suffer as long as they can, and die when they can suffer 
no more. Even if the cost in money were ascertainable, 
who could reckon the cost in misery, enervation and general 
lowering of vitality? As there is no assumption, open or 



tacit, that government exists for the good of the people, 
no one collects statistics of popular well-being or ill-being. 
The blight of misrule seems to be part of the natural order 
of things ; and, if the sufferers complain at all, it is just 
as they might complain of any natural calamity, such as 
drought or pestilence. Among more energetic races, in- 
tolerable suffering may seek relief in rebellion ; but popular 
risings, as distinct from dynastic revolts and military 
mutinies, are almost unknown to Indian history. Misrule, in 
short, goes unaudited and unchecked. It sins against no 
ideal because it owns none; and its victims are too inarticu- 
late to protest. 

But good administration starts from the principle that 
it exists for the benefit of the people ; and, moreover, it 
collects statistics and submits its accounts to criticism. 
If, then, its necessary expenses are heavy in proportion 
to the wealth, or the poverty, of the country, its practice 
seems to conflict with its professions, and discontent, aided 
by education, becomes vocal and importunate. Peace and 
security encourage the growth of population ; and unless 
a similar increase in the means of subsistence can be effected, 
the strain on the resources of the country is by so much the 
more severe. It is possible, of course, that an honest and 
well-meaning administration may be extravagant in its 
finance, and may claim too high a remuneration for its 
services. That, as a matter of fact, is one of the chief 
counts in the Indian indictment of British rule. But it is 
also quite possible — as the Abbe Dubois foresaw — that a 
country may be so situated as to require for its administra- 
tion and defence, even on the most economical terms, such 
sums as to involve a considerable draft upon the scant 
subsistence of its poorer classes. That this is the condition 
of India there can be no doubt. It may be that she is to 
some extent overcharged for the advantages of British 


rule ; but even if that overcharge, on any reasonable esti- 
mate, were to cease to-morrow, the country would be scarce 
the less bitterly poor. No conceivable relief of taxation 
would make the ryot prosperous, or place him beyond the 
reach of starvation in time of drought. If his poverty' is 
to be remedied, it must be by different methods of agricul- 
ture, different credit facilities, different social habits, and, 
above all, by the maintenance of a fair equation between 
mouths and food. 

I have spoken of the Indian "indictment" of British rule, 
and the word is not too strong for the attacks made upon 
the system and its results, not by fanatical extremists, but 
by moderate and sensible men. Mr. G. K. Gokhale, for in- 
stance, was a man of fine character and high ability, justly 
respected both by Indians and by Englishmen. He was a 
menil>er of the Viceroy's Legislative Council, an admirable 
speaker, and much less addicted than most of his countr^-- 
men to the vices of the rhetorical temperament. In a formal 
profession of faith, made on behalf of the brotherhood of 
Servants of India which he founded, he "frankly accepted 
the British connection, as ordained, in the inscrutable dis- 
pensation of Providence, for India's good." This decla- 
ration (which must not be taken as ironic) he was ready 
enough to repeat ; and yet, almost in the next breath, he 
would launch such accusations at the British rule as to make 
one wonder what worse fate Providence could have allotted 
to India had it been evilly instead of kindly disposed. Here 
are some extracts from a speech delivered at the National 
Liberal Club, on November 15, 190.5: 

It is necessary to consider how far the best interests — material 
and moral — of the people of India have been promoted by your 
administration during the last hundred j'cars. If the results, 
judged bv this test, were satisfactorv, however much one might 



object on principle to the present form of government main- 
tained in India, there would be something (!) to be said in its 
favour. . . . Let us first consider the moral results. These, it 
will be found, are of a mixed character. There is a great deal 
in them which you may regard with satisfaction and even pride. 
. . . On the other hand there are great evils too. . . . Our rig- 
orous exclusion from all power and all positions of trust and re- 
sponsibility ... is leading to a steady deterioration of our race, 
and this, I venture to think, is a cruel and iniquitous wrong you 
are inflicting upon us. . . . Let us now turn to the material re- 
sults, and here, I am sorry to say, the verdict is even more em- 
phatic against your rule. . . . The economic results of British 
rule in India have been absolutely disastrous. 

Read literally, this invective is surely inconsistent with 
even the most guarded acceptance of "the British connec- 
tion." If it causes "steady moral deterioration" and "abso- 
lute economic disaster," what worse results could ensue from 
its overthrow, and a return to the chaos of the eighteenth 
century, with perhaps, a Japanese or Russian raj to 
follow .'' 

Mr. Goldiale, of course, was not to be understood literally 
when he used such language. He spoke, no doubt, with sin- 
cerity, but it was the sincerity of the Leader of the Oppo- 
sition denouncing a flagitious Treasury Bench. It should 
never be forgotten that this is, and must be, the nature of a 
great deal of Indian criticism of British rule. The Govern- 
ment of India is a Ministry wliich never goes out, and the 
Indian Nationalists are an Opposition which never comes 
in, and is consequently unrestrained by any sense of 
responsibility, by any anticipation of having to make good 
its words when its turn comes. From such an Opposition, 
scrupulous fairness is not to be expected. Everything that 
goes wrong is laid to the charge of the Government, and it is 
assumed that but for the stupidity and arrogance and 


cupidity of the Government, everything would go right. 
This is, indeed, the nemesis of autocracy ; but most autocra- 
cies have a short way of dealing with an inconvenient 
Opposition. In India the Opposition, far from being sup- 
pressed, is allowed not only the utmost liberty of speech 
that any constitutional party could possibly claim, but is 
given a clear and honourable official standing. It might 
even be said, I tliink, that the existence of such a man as 
Mr. Gokhale, and his freedom to utter such charges as 
those above quoted, carries in itself the confutation of one 
of the charges — that of stunting and depressing the Indian 

There are, then, two groups of grievances currently 
alleged against the British rule: grievances material and 
grievances moral. Let us look into them in this order. 

The material grievances all i-educe themselves to one: 
the alleged impoverishment of the country. But this fact, if 
it be a fact, is viewed from different aspects and attributed 
to three main causes : 

(1) The "drain" of wealth due to heavy payments for 
the services of an alien administration, a large part of whose 
earnings is spent outside the country. 

(2) Excessive military expenditure. 

(3) Commercial subjection. 

Material Grievances — I. "The Drain." 

Most of the Indian arguments upon the "drain" — or, 
as it is sometimes called, the annual "tribute" paid by 
India to England — would lead one to imagine that the pro- 
verbial lore of India lacks an equivalent for the wise old saw: 
"You cannot both eat your cake and have it." No doubt it 
would be better for India if peace, order and security from 



invasion were products of her own soil, and had not to be 
imported. But as this is, for the present, not so — by the 
admission of all thinking men — it is futile to talk of the 
payment for these imported commodities as a dead loss. 
The metaphor is neither fantastic nor sophistical. It would 
be perfectly fair to enter in the balance-sheet, under the 
heading of "Imports" : 

Peace £x,000,000 

Order £y,000,000 

Security .... £z,000,000 

Items in the detailed account may be open to criticism; 
but even if an overcharge be detected here, an ungenerous 
exaction there, the main result — a large surplus on the 
import side — will be very slightly affected. It is true (and 
this is what we are all apt to forget) that even peace, order 
and security are not absolute and unmixed blessings, but 
are good only in so far as a nation is capable of using them 
wisely. It is no special reproach to India to say that she 
has not made the wisest use of them; for no people on 
earth has yet discovered the art of so ordering its social 
economy as to beget the highest measure of conunon weal. 
But India is at least as far as any other nation from know- 
ing how to reap the advantages of peace without its draw- 
backs : and her thinkers would perhaps be better employed 
in studying this art than in making fantastic calculations 
(under English guidance, it must be owned) of the sums 
of which she is annually despoiled by ravenous England. 

In his Economic Transition in India, Sir Theodore 
Morison examines the theory of the so-called "drain." He 
analyses the "Home Charges Budget" of 1910-11 and 
shows (to my sense, convincingly) that its total of nearly 
£20,000,000 reduces itself to a sum of a little less than 
£7,000,000 which may not unreasonably be called a pay- 


nient "due to the political connection with England."* 
He then asks: "If India stood outside the Empire, as Japan 
does, would she Ix; saved the expenditure of these £7,000,- 
000?" and his answer is that she would not. On the analogy 
of Japan, he points out, she would have to pay between four 
and five millions a year for a navy : and tliis is surely an 
undcr-cstimate, inasmuch as India offers a much more 
tempting field than Japan for foreign aggression. Further, 
she has not to maintain a diplomatic and consular ser^•ice; 
and he might have added that the £24,000 a year paid to 
her Viceroy is a trifle compared to the salaries and civil 
lists of monarchs, whether European or Oriental. But, he 
continues, "'The greatest saving of all arises directly from 
India's political connection with England. It is this: 
England's credit enables India to borrow money much more 
cheaply than she could otherwise do." Japan pays on an 
average 5\2 per cent, on her loans ; India borrows at S^/o 
per cent. "An additional 2 per cent, on India's total debt 
of £267,000,000 would represent an additional charge 
of £5,340,000 a year. This in itself is not very far from 
being enough to wipe out the whole of the 'political drain.' " 
But Sir Theodore goes on to point out that the present 
gain is not all that has to be taken into account. In the 
course of India's development, she will have to borrow some 
hundreds of millions "in the near future," and for every 
£100,000,000 she will pay £2,000,000 a year less interest 
than if she were Japan. f This, one may remark in parcn- 

*The other items are: Interest on Capit.ol Invested, £8,869,300; Inter- 
est on Ordinary Debt (with cost of management), f3,.?38.200; Stores 
and Goods (simply imports), f l,04fi.8OO. 

t Tlic Indian politieian reckons among his grievances all payment 
of interest on imported capital; hut since India admittedly does not 
possess sufficient capital for her development, and is extremely chary 
of investing what capital she has, this complaint is, in other words, a 
plea for economic stagnation. See post, pp. 149-151. 



thesis, assumes that the credit of an independent India 
would be as good as that of Japan — a tolerably large 
assumption. "The answer, then," says Sir Theodore, 
"which I give to the question 'What economic equivalent 
does India get for foreign payments?' is this: India gets 
the equipment of modem industry, and she gets an admin- 
istration favourable to economic evolution, cheaper than 
she could provide it herself." 

It seems to me, I confess, that tlus is an extremely 
moderate statement of the case. If we take a larger view of 
the whole question and compare what the Indian people 
pay for peace, order and security with the sums paid for 
these advantages by any similar number of people in other 
organized communities, we shall see, I think, that India 
profits quite enormously by the unity imposed on her by 
British rule, and the security she gains from her participa- 
tion in the defensive establishment of the British Empire. 
We have seen that the area of India is equal to that of 
Europe, minus Russia; and, oddly enough, the population 
of Europe minus Russia is rouglJy equivalent to the popu- 
lation of India.* To compare the cost of government of 
all Western Europe with the cost of government of India 
would of course show a gigantic disproportion ; but in order 
to do this we should have to include all the budgets of the 
native states, which, so far as I know, are not available. 
It is more to the point to take British India alone, with 
its population of 244,000,000, which exceeds by about 
9,000,000 the united populations of Great Britain and 
Ireland, France, Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Italy. 
Here, again, a comparison of the whole budgets would not 
be instructive, the discrepancy of conditions being so 
enormous. It is sufficient to put the tax revenue of the 

* 1 take the figures from the International Whitaker for 1913. They 
work out thus: Europe, minus Russia, 313,104,000: India, 315,132,537. 


United Kingdom alone — about £155,000,000 — beside the 
tax-revenue of India — about £45,000,000:* the incidence 
per head of population being about £3 8s. in the United 
Kingdom, as compared with 3s. 8d. in India. It is more to 
the point to see what the defence of 235,000,000 people in 
Europe costs, in comparison with the defence of 244,000,000 
in India. This, I submit, is a legitimate and really in- 
structive comparison: for defence is a function that depends 
not so much upon what a country ought to afford, in con- 
sideration of its wealth, as upon what a country must 
provide, in consideration of the dangers to which it is 
exposed. I shall try to put my meaning more clearly after 
having stated the figures. 

Defence now ranks in the Indian budget at about 
£21,000,000 per annum, and the Indian Opposition is 
never tired of denouncing tlie reckless extravagance of tliis 
expenditure. But the defence of a smaller number of people 
in Europe costs more than ten times as much, namely 
£235,500,000 — to say nothing of the economic loss involved 
in conscription. Western Europe (United Kingdom, 
France, Germany, Austria, Italy) pays just about £1 per 
head of population for defence: British India pays less 
than Is. 8d. per head. Further, as the whole of India 
benefits by the security it enjoys, it is quite fair to include 
the wliole population in reckoning the incidence of defensive 
expenditui'e : in which case it works out at less than Is. 4d. 
per head.f Tlie defence of Russia costs the people of the 
Russian ICmpire about 7s. 9d. each ; tiie defence of Japan 

* Tlie total revenue and expenditure of British India are now between 
£75,000,000 and £80,000,000 a year. 

t The inclusion of the expenses of the Imperial Service Corps might 
infinitesimally aifcct this figure. The armies of the Native States may 
be disregarded, as contriliuting, not to the defensive strength of the Em- 
pire, but to the necessity for maintaining in high efEciency the forces 
wliich guarantee the Imperial bond. 



costs the people of Japan alone 7s. 5d. each; if we include 
tlie population of her dependencies, the figure is reduced 
to about 5s. 7d. — more than four times as much as the cost 
per head of the defence of India. 

Now this, I say, is no unfair comparison, since the needs 
of defence are not to be measured bj- the wealth or poverty 
of the people, but by the dangers which threaten it. Why 
does defence cost Western Europeans, per head, fifteen 
times as much as it costs to Indians? Because Western 
Europe is broken up into hostile communities, jealous of one 
another's prosperity, afraid of one another's power, and 
with more than one old score to be wiped out at the first 
opportunity. Whj- is India not similarly broken up into 
hostile communities with apparently conflicting interests, 
with territorial disputes unsettled, with mutual jealousies 
and rancours necessitating a constant readiness to repel 
aggression.'' Simply because British rule imposes unity and 
peace upon races and religions more diverse than those of 
Western Europe — peoples which, in the past, have shown 
a tragic inabilit}' to live at peace with each other. It is 
true that, as we have seen in Chapter III., British rule has 
begotten a certain sense of solidarit}', wliich will doubtless 
grow and strengthen if present conditions remain undis- 
turbed; but the unifying process is as yet very incomplete, 
and it is scarcely to be doubted that, were the external 
pressure now withdrawn, India would break up again into 
numerous potentially hostile states, which would proceed to 
arm against each other with all the ruinous apparatus of 
modem warfare. How long, in such an event, could the 
requirements of defence be kept down to one rupee per head, 
or even to one rupee, four annas.''* 

* "I do not think the comparison with European expenditure a good 
one," writes a friendly critic, familiar with India, "because I do not 
believe that, were we to leave India, the separate races would ever arm 


Let us imagine, however, that India, outside the British 
Empire, remained an empire at peace with itself, or a 
confederation of united states, requiring no force for what 
may be called inter-state defence. It would in that case 
present a marvellous and unprecedented spectacle to the 
world : that of a huge congeries of heterogeneous races, 
tribes and tongues, falling into a condition of stable equilib- 
rium without any external pressure : a triumphant proof, 
by the way, of the beneficence of the alien rule which, 
in a single century, had worked such a miracle. But would 
the admiration which this spectacle ought to command render 
the India of the future any more inviolable from without 
than the India of the past? Would the country which has 
tempted invasion after invasion since the very dawn of 
history be exempt from the need of fortifying her frontiers, 
patrolling her coasts, and being prepared to hurl back from 
her soil any invaders who broke through her lines of defence.'' 
In the present state of the world, the answer must be: 
certainly not. There are several nations which, rightly or 
wrongl}', wisely or unwisely, would be only too glad to step 
into England's shoes in India ; and if India's weakness 
invited them, the}' would not long lack a pretext for aggres- 
sion. India outside the British Empire, in short, even if 
she continued to present a united front to the world, would 
be forced to strengthen that front at enormous cost. Even 

on such a stupendous scale against each other: they would soon submit 
to some control either from within or from without." As to the proba- 
bility of the latter contingency, I agree; but I am putting it aside for 
the moment to consider the other alternative. If it be true that India 
would "soon" and i)eacefully submit to "control from within," then 
she is already ripe for self-government. I wish I could believe it ! 
her different sections would not arm against each other on the ".stupen- 
dous" European scale is no doubt true: their poverty would render it 
impossible. But they would strain their resources to make their arma- 
ments as formidable as possible. 



supposing she could save on her army estimates (and the 
probability is all the other way) she would certainly have 
to create a powerful navy ; and a rupee per head would leave 
very little margin for that. 

I believe, then, that the theory of the "drain" is abso- 
lutely and ludicrously unfounded. I believe that not only 
does India receive a full equivalent for the sums withdrawn 
from her, but that she gets her administration and defence 
quite amazmgly cheap — incomparably cheaper than any 
other region in the world of similar extent and population.* 
It is always possible to argue that, in a metaphorical sense, 
she "pays too dear' for these benefits : that it would be 
better for her soul if she were thrown back upon war and 
rapine, and left to work out her salvation for herself. But, 
in the first place, tliis is not the argument advanced by any 
responsible politician ; in the second place, she would almost 
certainly not be "left to work out her salvation," but would 
merely exchange the British for some other foreign raj. 
I do not think even the wildest extremist imagines that there 
would be any great gain in that. 

Material Grievaxces — II. Military Expexbituhe, 

We now come to the second count of the indictment on 
the material side — that of excessive military expenditure. 
It may appear that I have already dealt with this subject; 
but that is not so. I have tried to show that the burden 
of defence is very small in comparison with that borne 

* I cannot find any data which would enable us to bring China into 
the comparison. But, however it might work out in figures, two con- 
siderations would hare to be borne in mind: first, that China has a very 
much more homogeneous population, and that the tradition of unity is 
there as strong as the tradition of political disunion in India: second, 
that the peace of China is very much less secure than the peace of India 
under British rule. 


bj other nations, and in proportion to the temptations 
which India has always offered to foreign invaders. But 
it docs not follow from this that the military expenditure 
is not higher than it need Ix;. If equal security could be 
attained at less cost — if, say, it could be bought for one 
shilling per head instead of Is. 4d. — then India has, in so 
far, a just grievance. 

This is, of course, a question for experts, on which it 
is difficult for a layman to fonn a decided opinion. Indian 
politicians have not the least hesitation in condemning 
the "forward" frontier policy which has added so largely 
to the military budget. It is an article of faith to them 
that we should have ensconced ourselves bcliind the inmost 
line of defence* and not gone out to meet a possible invader. 
This opinion may conceivably be right in itself; but it is 
held in India, not because it is right, but because it is the 
opposite opinion to that of the Government. I do not mean 
that the politicians have not studied the question; I mean 
that they have accepted the arguments which appealed to 
them in their character of a permanent Opposition, and 
which made for immediate, if not ultimate, economy. For 
my part, I do not attempt to decide. All governments are 
fallible ; and if the Government of India has made a mistake 
in its frontier policy, it has at least not been for lack of 
earnest thought and deliberation. It is useless to talk as 
if it had been animated by insane acquisitiveness or reckless 
and wanton extravagance. 

One argument frequently advanced on the side of the 
Opposition I hold to be clearly fallacious. In his evidence 

'"British BaliKliislan and the Gilgit Protectorate are hcyond the 
line of our iiiipregnnhle (lefences. and India has no eoncern with tliem 
except as Imperial charges." Mr. Gokhale, iMidence before the \Vclliy 
Commission 1897. It is a little surprising to find Mr. Gokhale speaking 
of the "impregnable defences" of the most invaded country in the world. 



before the Welby Commission (1897), Mr. Gokhale said: 
"If England thinks that a certain number of European 
officers and a certain strength of the European army must 
always be maintained in India, she must be prepared to 
pay a fair share of the cost . . . the maintenance of 
British supremacy in India being a matter affecting the 
most vital interests of England." And in his Budget 
Speech of 1905, in the Imjjerial Legislative Council, Mr. 
Gokhale repeated the same argument : "It is said that 
India is the strategic frontier of the British Empire. If 
so, the defence of such frontiers is clearly an Imperial 
responsibility, and India ought to be relieved of part of 
her present military burdens." In sum, England ought 
not merely to organize the defence of India, devoting much 
of her best brain and muscle to the task, and paying enor- 
mous sums to keep her communications clear: she ought 
also to bear part of the actual military exf>enses incurred 
within the country, or on the frontier. What part she 
ought to bear Mr. Gokhale did not say, nor did he suggest 
any principle on which the proportion should be deter- 

This contention can be not obscurely traced back to the 
idea that India is a source of vast profit to England, or in 
other words to the theory of the "drain." With its implica- 
tions stated at length, the argument would run something 
like this: "Since the peace and security of India are of 
direct value to England, in order that she may devote her- 
self undisturbed to her work of exploitation, she ought in 
common decency to contribute to the cost of keeping in- 
truders out of her preserves. Why should the people who 
are robbing us from within throw upon us the whole cost of 
frightening off those who would rob us from without.''" Such 
views find a certain amount of sanction in the loose talk of 
the Imperialists who regard the British Empire as an asset 


and not as a responsibility. But if it be not true that we 
get from India any more than a very reasonable equivalent 
for the services we render her,* what becomes of the argu- 
ment that we ought to pay heavily for the privilege of ren- 
dering these services? We do pay heavily for it, outside 
India. Our interest in "the Eastern Question" arises mainly, 
if not solely, from our responsibilities in India; and what 
has not that interest cost us? We assume the entire charge 
of India's maritime defence except a little over £400,000 a 
year.t It would be rather hard if we had to pay for the 
defence of her land frontier as well. 

It does not appear from whom Mr. Gokhale quoted the 
saying that India is "the strategic frontier of the British 
Empire"; nor is it quite clear what the phrase means, unless 
that it is the most vulnerable point in the frontier. Mr. 
Dadabhai Naoroji, in his Presidential Address to the Indian 
National Congress at Lahore in 1893, put the plea more 
definitely, in quoting from Lord Roberts two statements to 
the effect that "the retention of our Eastern Empire is essen- 
tial to the greatness and prosperity of the United Kingdom," 
and then asking why, if this be so, the cost of defence should 
be "to the last farthing thrown on the wretched Indians." 
That this is far from being the case we have just seen; but 

* If we go hack to the fifrhteriith century, \vc must of course plead 
guilty to niueh "shaking of the pagoda tree." We robhed the native 
robbers who were t)leeding the country to death; and here and there 
we took up and carried on tlieir work. But to quote as applicable to the 
present day, a phrase of Uuskin's about "our native desire to live on 
the loot of India," is not, I think, to promote lucidity of thought. Still 
less is it helpful to endorse without reserve the phrases of Indian agita- 
tors who talk of the British as being "day and night engaged in the 
exploitation of our country and the spoliation of our people." 

t The average of ten years' "marine expenditure," 1900-10. This is 
less than a quarter of the cost of a single battleship, less than one-twen- 
tieth of the naval expenditure of .lapan, and less than one hundredth 
part of the naval expenditure of England. 



even if it were the case, what country can justly claim to 
be relieved of the cost of its own defence? It is not our 
fault that India is poor.* It is not our fault that she 
invites invasion. It is not our fault that she has never been 
able, by her own organization and resources, to offer any 
sustained resistance to invasion. AVe place her in a strong 
defensive position by means of an army of 225,000 men, 
one tliird of whom are Europeans. That this force, and the 
constructions and operations undertaken for securing the 
frontier, should cost a little over £20,000,000t a year is no 
doubt to be regretted, when we consider the poverty of the 
country ; and the Opposition has every right to urge 
economy and object to unfair charges. Especially may it 
with reason protest against the throwing upon India of 
expenses incurred in the ser\'ice of the Empire in general 
and not of India in particular. But that is a quite different 
thing from claiming exemption from expenses incurred in the 
direct interest of her security. Some of them may have 
been unwisely incurred; but that is not the point here at 
issue. The point is whether England ought to relieve India 
of a proportion of the outlay necessary for her land 
defence; and in that contention I can see no reason. 

"But," it may be urged, "the 75,000 British soldiers in In- 
dia are not really — at any rate not primarily — a force hired 
to protect the country against menace from without. They 
are the garrison required to consolidate British rule within 
the country- — to give strength, when necessary, to the 'civil 
arm.' " No doubt that is so; no doubt India (by the admis- 
sion of all reasonable Indians) requires, as yet, protection 
against internal no less than against external dangers. But 

* Mr. Xaoroji and Mr. Gokhale maintain that it is our fault — a con- 
tention we have already examined, and shall return to later. 

t Xote that at least three-fourths of this sum is expended in India, 
and can by no manner of reckoning be docketed as "drain." 


is that the fault of England? Can England be rightly 
debited with the cost of maintaining peace and order in a 
country which would certainly never have come under her 
control had it been able to perform that duty for itself? 

This brings us round again to the suggestion that, on the 
evidence of Lord Roberts and many other authorities, India 
is "essential to the greatness and prosperity of England," 
which therefore ouglit to pay for her defence. Now it is 
perfectly true that the prestige and (for a time at any rate) 
the prosperity of England would suffer considerably by a 
catastrophic end of her rule in India, wlietlier due to invasion 
from without or rebellion from within. An unsuccessful war 
is necessarily a calamity, at any rate in its immediate re- 
sults ; and as the expulsion of the British from India would 
probably mean the installation of a government (whether 
native or foreign) hostile to British trade, the blow would 
doubtless be severely felt in the industrial world. But be- 
cause the violent overthrow of an existing arrangement 
would bo disastrous, it does not follow that the arrangement 
in itself is particularly profitable. Apart from the question 
of trade, it is very doubtful wlietlier we make any clear profit 
at all out of our connection with India. She is a huge ad- 
dition to our responsibilities, and she "drains" us year by 
year of many of our best intellects, returning them to us 
when their vigour is declining, and when (in many cases) 
they have formed habits of thought and feeling of doubtful 
advantage to tlieir Britisli citizenship. Whatever we gain 
by the connection, except in the way of commerce, is prob- 
ably a very poor compensation for what we sacrifice. If 
wc are not in India for India's good, still less arc we there 
for our own. There is a certain stimulus, no doubt, in the 
romance of the adventure, and a certain satisfaction in the 
sense of work well done, which, on the whole, and despite our 
critics, we may justly feel. But one need not Ik a Little 



Englander to hold that India has tended to check rather than 
to promote the course of sound development in our national 

There remains the commercial advantage of the connec- 
tion: is it so huge, and of such vital importance to us, that 
we ought, as it were, to tax our profits in order to relieve 
India of part of the burden of her military defence? Before 
the war — that is to say, under normal conditions — our trade 
with India was about 8 per cent, of our total trade ; our 
exports to India were less than 10 per cent, of our total 
exports. If we were entirely excluded from the Indian 
market — and, even in the worst event, that would scarcely 
be the case — the blow to our commerce would be consider- 
able, indeed, but by no means crushing. Our total trade 
with the United States and our total trade with Germany 
— protectionist countries both — were in each case greater by 
many millions than our total trade with India. In the scale 
of our exports alone, India came well below both these coun- 
tries. If, then, we are bound to contribute to the military 
charges of countries whose trade is valuable to us, we ought 
to begin with the United States and Germany. With refer- 
ence to these countries, the suggestion cannot be taken seri- 
ously; has it any greater validity with reference to India? 

There is some evidence, I think, that the Home Govern- 
ment treats India in a niggardly spirit on certain points of 
sheer accountancy, debiting her with charges which ought, 
if not in justice, at any rate in generosity, to be borne 
by England. A prominent case in point is that of the India 
Office, of which the charges, something like £175,000 * a 

* I take this figure from the Statistical Abstract of British India, 
1900-10, p. 71. Mr. Gokhale, in his evidence before the Welby Com- 
mission, placed it at £273,000. "The salary of the Colonial Secretary," 
he said, "together with his official charges, is borne on the Imperial 
Estimates. ... I am aware, however, that . , . under present arrange- 


year, are borne hy India. This cannot, I tiiink, be called 
positively unjust, but it has the appearance of being un- 
generous, and I believe it would be a measure of wise econ- 
omy to do away with the small but rankling grievance. An 
excellent rule in Anglo-Indian finance would be, "When in 
doubt, charge England." * 

Material Grievances — III. Commeecial Subjection. 

The third grievance, on the material side, is that of com- 
mercial subjection or exploitation. It is very clearly formu- 
lated by Mr. Gokhale in his evidence before the Welby 
Commission : "The resources of our Empire," he said, "are 
really vast; but the great difficulty in India is about capital, 
and we are unable at present to take advantage of these 
resources ourselves, but our hope is that in course of time 
we might be better able to spend money in that direction, 
and then we should be able to utilize our resources for our- 
selves. At present, owing to the vigorous manner in which 
railways are constructed, and the way in which foreign 
capitalists arc encouraged to invest their monc^- in India, 
the result is that we get only the wages of labour, while 
all the profits that are made are taken out of the country, 
and our resources are being utilized by others." Mr. Na- 
oroji, who was a member of the Commission, then proceeded 
to question Mr. (iokhale as to the reason why India was 

ments, the India Office has to do ranch directive and executive work 
. . . which the Colonial Office is not called upon to do, and I should, 
therefore, be satisfied if the charges were divided half and half between 
India and England." 

* I do not renicinlicr to have seen any protest against the item of 
"Ecclesiastical Expenditure," running to over £130,000 a year. Tlie 
European connnuiiity ought surely to pay for its own spiritual luxuries. 
This item conies un<ler "Salaries and Expenses of Civil Oepartnients." 
The "Ecclesiastical" expenses of the army, which may fairly be reckoned 
as necessary, are very uuicli lower. 



so ill-provided with capital : "Is it not because our capital 
is carried away from the country?" "Yes, that is so." "Is 
not that at the root of the whole thing?" "Yes, it is at the 
root of the whole thing." Once more the famous "drain" ! 

Mr. Gokhale further said that, while he admitted the 
benefit of the trunk lines of railway, he would have had no 
further development of the railway system, except such as 
could be executed out of surplus revenue: that, in a word, 
he would have had "India make her own railroads." In 
his Budget speeches of ten to fifteen years later, he criti- 
cizes very severely the system of "budgeting for surpluses" 
and of paying extraordinary expenses (such as those of 
military re-organization) out of revenue, instead of by way 
of loan. There is, to my mind, a great deal of force in his 
objection to any system of finance which takes from the 
Indian tax-paj-er more than is strictly needful for the time 
being; but it is hard to see how, on this principle, the Indian 
railroads would ever have got themselves built. 

I have read criticisms on details (and important details) 
of Indian railway finance which seemed, to my inexpert 
judgment, distinctly damaging. That the Government has 
now and then entered into disadvantageous bargains, and al- 
lowed itself to be "put upon," seems probable enough. But 
the Indian railways now bring into the exchequer the sub- 
stantial annual revenue of from £12,000,000 to £14,000,000 
— far more than half the total of the so-much-denounced 
military expenditure. It would seem as though the system 
had not been, on the whole, absolutely ruinous to the 

But the railways are only a particular instance of the 
exploitation of which Mr. Gokhale and Mr. Naoroji com- 
plain — the exploitation which, to use their own favourite 
phrase, is reducing them to nothing but "hewers of wood 
and drawers of water." The real question is whether they 


are right in arguing that India's assumed inability to pro- 
vide the capital for her own development is due to the malign 
influence of foreign rule, and wlicther, realizing that in- 
ability, a wise statesmanship ought to have checked develop- 
ment until such time as India could have paid for it out of 
her own resources? 

The second half of the question raises an economic prob- 
lem of great interest. Where it is a matter of choosing be- 
tween comparatively slow development by (so to speak) 
home-grown capital, and rapid development by foreign capi- 
tal, it is very probable that far-sighted statesmanship would 
choose the former alternative. But this choice would pre-' 
suppose two conditions : first, that the country could afford 
to develop slowly : secondly, that, given reasonable time, its 
people had the energy and the thrift to furnish for them- 
selves the means of development. Were those conditions 
present in India.'' Would not the policy now advocated by 
the Indian Opposition — the deliberate exclusion of foreign 
capital — have left the country exposed to far greater evils 
than those now complained of.-" Effective measures of fam- 
ine relief would have remained impossible; education would 
have been enormously retarded ; the sense of national unity 
would have grown very slowly, if at all. I think it may 
safely be said that the Indian Opposition would never have 
existed, or at any rate would liave renuiined in the far 
future, if the Government, fifty years ago, had acted upon 
the economic principles which it is now reproached with 
ignoring. It is not accused of having recklessly or cor- 
ruptly given away valuable rights and concessions to foreign 
capitalists, or alienated what ought to be regarded as the 
property of the nation. It is not accused of blindly pander- 
ing — after the manner of Porfirio Diaz — to capitalistic 
greed. All it has done is not to interfere artificially with tlie 
natural influx of capital for the development of resources 



which the Indian people lacked the means, and more particu- 
larly the energy, to develop for themselves. The view that 
it should, or could, have acted otherwise, does not seem 
seriously tenable. 

If, on the other hand, India's lack of capital was due to 
impoverishment consequent upon British rule, that is a seri- 
ous, even a terrible, grievance. We have already seen some 
reason for doubting whether this fundamental theory of the 
Indian Opposition tallies with the facts of the case; but it 
may be well, at this point, to look a little more closely into 
the whole question of Indian wealth and poverty. 

In the first place: is it true that the resources of the 
country are being exploited exclusively, or nearly so, by 
Europeans.'' When one has seen the palaces of merchants 
and manufacturers around Bombay and Ahmedabad, and 
the Calcutta mansions of the zemindars, or landlords, en- 
riched by the "permanent settlement" of Bengal, one has a 
little difficulty in compassionating these "hewers of wood 
and drawers of water." Almost all of the 200 to 250 cotton 
mills (mostly in Bombaj' Presidency) have been built by 
Indian capital, and if the 60 to 70 jute mills of Bengal are 
mainly in European hands, that is not, certainly, because the 
Bengalis have no money to embark in such enterprises. It is 
true that coal mines, tea plantations and gold mines are for 
the most part owned by Europeans ; but Indian capital and 
enterprise are largely employed in the production of silk, 
paper, timber, flour, in oil-pressing and in carpet-weaving. 
It is not the fact that European enterprise has elbowed 
Indian enterprise aside ; it may rather be said to have flowed 
in where the lack of Indian enterprise (far more than the 
lack of Indian capital) left gaps for it to fill; and it is the 
fact that Indians are, year by year, securing a larger share 
of the import and export trade of the country. The Parsis, 
Bhathias and Banias of Bombay, being born traders, have 


all along known how to avail themselves of their opportuni- 
ties. It is not our fault if the Bengali prefers to live on the 
income of his lands, and let the European carry on the jute, 
coal and tea industries. There is an impression abroad that 
the merchant princes of Bombay Presidency are almost all 
Parsis. This is scarcely the fact : there are many Hindus 
and Muhammadans among them: but even if it were the fact, 
what would it prove.'' Not that the British rule prevented 
Hindus and Muhammadans from profiting by the resources 
of their country, but that the Parsis, by reason of their 
greater intelligence and energy, were quicker than their 
neighbours in seizing opportunities. The Parsi has no spe- 
cial privileges or immunities as compared with other Indians. 
What a Parsi can do, a Hindu can do — if he has it in him. 
If he is not in general an alert and enterprising man of busi- 
ness, the fault lies, not with the British rule, but with in- 
fluences operating through ages before the British rule was 
dreamt of. 

Again, even as to railways, is it the case that India could 
not, if it would, have provided the capital for their con- 
struction? It did provide the capital for a certain part 
of them, in the form of loans from three or four Indian 
princes, on terms said to be not wholly advantageous to the 
Indian tax-payer. As to the general mass of railway stock, 
I am not aware of any statistics to show how much of it is 
held in India; but if it is a small proportion, the reason 
must lie in the Indian character. There is no doubt that 
the hoarded, or, at any rate, the uninvested wealth of India 
is great, and that rich men, from princes downwards, might 
do a great deal more than they actually do towards develop- 
ing the resources of the country. If they lack the enter- 
prise or the intelligence to invest judiciously in joint stock 
concerns, is that the fault of the British rule? To say that 
development ought to have been suspended because India 



had not the capital to undertake it for herself, is not, at 
best, very practical; but what becomes of the suggestion 
should it appear that she had the capital, and forbore to 
use it? 

One of the proofs of poverty which the Indian Opposition 
is fond of adducing is the small amount of the deposits in the 
Post Office Savings Bank. "The total deposits in your 
Postal Savings Bank," said Mr. Gokhale at the National 
Liberal Club in 1905, "amount to 148 milUon sterhng, and 
you have, in addition, in the Trustee Savings Bank, about 
52 million sterling. Our Postal Savings Bank deposits, 
with a population seven times as large as yours, are only 
about seven million sterling, and even of this a little over one 
tenth is held by Europeans." * This is certainly a striking 
contrast ; but Mr. Gokhale makes no allowance for his coun- 
trywomen's habit of carrying the family savings about their 
persons in the shape of gold and silver ornaments and 
jewellery. The European who has not visited India can 
scarcely believe how universal is this practice, or what a 
weight of precious metals the Indian woman will suspend at 
her ears and string upon her wrists and ankles. If India 
would capitalize her nose-rings alone, her Savings Bank 
total would go up at a bound.f 

After all deductions and qualifications, however, we come 
at last to the hard fact that the peasantry of India — 
four-fifths of the population — are as a whole extremely 
poor, and that many millions live habitually on the brink 

* On March 31, 1913, there were in the Post Office Savings Bank 
1,500,834 accounts representing over £12,500,000. Government promis- 
sory notes to the amount of £517,153 had been issued; and Postal Life 
Insurance had been effected to an aggregate sum of £2,022,532. For 
further figures showing the steady increase of savings, see Lord Cui-zon 
in India, pp. 132, 281. 

t As to the sums lavished on mendicant "ascetics" sec Chapter IV., 
p. 82. 


of starvation. It is time that we sliould get at the true and 
ultimate reason of this fact. 

The Causes of Indian Poverty. 

The reason alleged by the Indian Opposition is that the 
ryot has been ruthlessly taxed for a century past in order 
to pay the "tribute" demanded by his foreign rulers, so 
that he has aU the time grown poorer and poorer, less able to 
lay by against a rainless day — in other words, against times 
of famine — and, by reason of impaired vitality, more apt to 
fall a victim to plague, cholera, malaria and other forms of 
disease. Nor is this a theory held by Indians alone. It is 
repeated and worked out by Englislnnen in such fantastic 
figures that one wonders why the whole Indian people is 
not dead of starvation years ago. 

Even when more sanely stated, this argument presents 
serious difficulties on the very threshold. There is, as we 
have seen, ample evidence that the Indian peasant was very 
poor a century ago.* If, now, you keep on steadily making 
a poor man poorer year by year, you must come ultimately 
to the point at which he has notliing left at all; and the fact 
that that point has not been reached in a hundred j'ears is 
of itself sufficient to throw doubt on the theory. Again, 
it is quite certain that in the eighteenth century, not only 
was the country tormented by war and brigandage, but 
many princes and their deputies ground the people most 
inhumanly in order to meet the costs of their ambition and 
their luxury. Is it not, indeed, the standing and just 
reproach against the East India Company, that, before it 
awoke to its responsibilities, some of its agents connived 

* "The indebtedness of the ryot is no new tiling. Munro in Madras 
and Elphinstone in Bombay showed at the beginning of the nineteenth 
century how utterly sunk in debt the rj-ot was." Morison, Economic 
Trantition in India, p. 79. 

.,.-.- [151] 


at, profited by, and even participated in, gross tyrannies 
of this nature? If this be so, who can believe that, under 
a reign of peace and order, legitimate taxation, even if 
somewhat burdensome, can have such a depressing and im- 
poverislung effect as rapine, pillage, and arbitrary exaction? 
If, as a matter of fact, people are not much richer than 
they were at the end of that chaotic period — much poorer 
they could not possibly be — must we not suspect some other 
cause or causes at work, besides the pressure of taxation? 

Going still further back, to the great days of the Mogul 
Empire, we know that the land revenue exacted by Akbar, 
Shah Jahan, and Aurungzeb was very much larger than 
that which has at any time been demanded under British 
rule.* "Allowing for difference in area and purchasing 
power of silver," writes Sir William Hunter, "Akbar's tax 
was about three times the amount which the British take" 
(in 1893). The land revenue of Aurungzeb after his an- 
nexations in Southern India was nearly 38 millions, exclusive 
of what he drew from Kashmir and Kabul. The land revenue 
of 1910-11 was less than 21 millions, probably (though of 
this I am not quite sure) drawn from a larger area than 
Aurungzeb controlled. Aurungzeb's total revenue from all 
sources was estimated in 1695 at 80 millions sterling, and in 
1697 at 77V2 millions. The total revenue of recent years 
ranges somewhere around the same figures ; but from this 20 
to 2.5 millions have to be written off as arising from sources 
unknown to Aurungzeb, such as railways, post-office, tele- 
graphs and the opium excise, which is paid by the Chinese 

Even in the absence of precise data, who could doubt 
that the country was squeezed by the Moguls to a degree 
unimaginable in these pusillanimous times.'- They kept large 
armies afoot. We know that Shah Jahan and Aurungzeb 

• See Hunter's Brief History of the Indian Peoples, pp. 139, 144, 150. 


maintained 200,000 horse and a considerable force of ar- 
tillery. The infantry, it is true, were weak, but on the other 
hand there were enormous hosts of camp-followers. Bernier 
says that they exceeded 200,000 "in the army alone which is 
with the king." "Delhy and Agra," he added, "liveth of 
almost nothing but of the soldiery." * The military ex- 
penses were partly met by jagirs, or grants of land to lead- 
ers who provided contingents — a system which certainly led 
to great abuses, and cannot at best have been to the advan- 
tage of the cultivator. Expenses of fortification were not 
slight — witness the vast citadels of Lahore, Delhi, Agra, 
Allahabad and other places. Court life was lavishly luxuri- 
ous. Akbar never had fewer than 5,000 elephants and 
12,000 stable horses, besides great hawking and hunting 
establishments. On festival days "the king was seated on his 
throne in a marble palace surrounded by nobles wearing high 
heron plumes and sparkling with diamonds like the firma- 
ment. f Man}' hundred elephants passed before him in com- 
panies, all most richly adorned, and the leading elephant of 
each company with gold plates on its head and breast set 
with rubies and emeralds. Trains of caparisoned horses 
followed, and after them rhinoceroses, lions, tigers, and 
panthers, hunting leopards, hounds and hawks ; the whole 
concluding with an innumerable host of cavalry glittering 
with cloth of gold." J But pageantry probably cost less 

* In another place, Bernier says, "Many wonder, considering the huge 
number of persons living of pay (which amounts to millions), whence 
such yast revenues can be had for such excessive charges; although 
this need not be so much wondered at considering the riches of the Em- 
pire, the peculiar government of the State, and the said universal pro- 
priety of the Sovereign." He means that the Kmperor was the universal 

t "I own I never saw such inestimable wealth." Sir Thomas Roe. 

t Elphinstone: Ilhtory of India, p. 536. Those who have seen the 
Lungar parade at Hyderabad, Deccan, can form some conception of the 
gorgeousness of Mogul pageantry. 



than the seraglio, to the "incredible expenses" of which, 
under Aurungzeb, Bernier bears explicit witness. Nor need 
we search old records for testimonies of Mogul prodigality. 
The face of the land is covered with their palaces, mosques 
and tombs, wliich must have cost huge sums of money, even 
if the cash payments were somewhat reduced by the em- 
ployment of forced labour. Go to Fatehpur-Sikri and see 
the magnificent city which Akbar built only to be abandoned, 
nobody quite knows why. Return to Agra and view the 
marble miracle which Shah Jahan dedicated to the memory 
of the chief lady of his harem. Wander through the ex- 
quisite marble palaces of Agra, Delhi, Lahore. Mark the 
giant plinths upon which such splendid structures as Hu- 
mayun's Tomb and the Jumma Musjid at Dellii are elevated. 
Then ask where the price of all these high-piled glories 
came from, and you will find that it was, for the most part, 
wrung from the red soil of India. The proportion which 
arose from mines or manufactures or commerce must have 
been comparatively small; and if some of it came from the 
loot of conquered provinces, even that must have sprung 
ultimately from the soil. Any neglect of economy that could 
ever be laid to the charge of the British Government shrinks 
into insignificance when compared with the imperial exor- 
bitancies of the Moguls.* "But at least," it may be said, 
"the wealth which they extracted from their subjects re- 
mained in India, and was not 'drained' away." It did, no 
doubt; but how much of it came back to the ryot? The 
theory of the "drain" is relevant to a discussion of the gen- 

* Shah Jahan, says Elphinstone, "was the most magnificent prince 
that ever appeared in India. . . . His expenses can only be palliated 
by the fact that they neither occasioned any increase to his exactions 
nor any embarrassment of his finances." But if his exactions were not 
increased, this could only mean that they were from the first enormous. 
His famous "Peacock Throne" was valued at £6,500,000. 


eral riches of the country : scarcely, if at all, to the question 
of the well-being of the peasant class. 

Observe, too, that throughout the Mogul period, though 
some parts of India enjoyed a fair measure of exemption 
from actual war, there was never any approach to the uni- 
versal pacification of to-daj'. The Moguls were often fight- 
ing among themselves, and almost always either trying to 
extend their territory or to crush rebellious vassals. There 
was no efficient system of police, and life and property were 
everywhere insecure. William Hawkins, who visited Delhi 
in the early j*ears of Jahangir's reign, writes: "The Great 
Mogul is severe enough, but all helpeth not, for his poore 
Riots or Clownes complaine of Injustice done them, and cry 
for Justice at the King's hands. ... At first coming to the 
Crowne, he was more severe than now he is, which is the 
cause that the country is so full of outlawes and theeves, 
that almost a man cannot stirre out of doores throughout 
all his Dominions, without great forces." Often, if not al- 
ways, the land revenue was exacted with unscrupulous 
rapacity. Bemier, who was in India from 1655 to 1661, 
notes that there appears "little money in trade among the 
people: partly because much of it is consumed in melting 
over and over all those nose and ear-rings, chains and finger- 
rings, bracelets of hands and feet, which the women wear" ; 
partly because "Governors and [tax] farmers have an ab- 
solute authority over the countrymen, and even a very great 
one over the tradesmen and merchants of the towns, so that 
. . . there is not any person to whom a countryman, trades- 
man or merchant can make his complaint in cases of extor- 
tion and tyranny often practised upon them by the soldiery 
and the governors. . . . Whence is it that ordinarily they 
affect to appear poor and moneyless . . . and at last they 
find no other remedy to secure their wealth than to hide and 
dig their money deep underground . . . infatuated with the 



belief tliat the gold and silver which they hide in their life- 
time shall serve them after death."' The last sentences evi- 
dently apply rather to the urban middle-class than to the 
peasantry. But the same acute obser\-er goes on: "Tyranny 
often grows to that excess that it takes away what is neces- 
sary to the life of a peasant or tradesman, who is starved 
for hunger and misery. . . . The land is not tilled but al- 
most by force, consequently very ill, and much of it is quite 
spoUed and ruined." It is true that in tliis passage Bernier 
is speaking rather of Oriental countries in general than of 
India in particular; but it is the condition of India which 
suggests his remarks, and he makes no exception in her 

We see, then, that, under the Moguls, an enormous revenue 
was raised, often by very oppressive methods and under 
conditions far less favourable to the peaceful cultivation of 
the soil than those of to-day. It may be added that plague 
and famine were by no means unknown,* though people paid 
much less attention to them than they do at present. Is it 
for a moment credible that the ryot was better off then than 
now.? He was not: he suffered, then as now, apathetically 
and uncomplainingly ; and it was nobody's business either to 
relieve his hardships or to bewail his fate. To this day it is 
only the class which has come under the influence of Euro- 
pean humanitarianism that is greatly concerned about the 
sufferings of the peasant. European oflBcials engaged in 
famine work are frequently startled by the fatalistic indif- 
ference of their Indian subordinates. "Why trouble about 
this carrion?" they will say: "It is the will of the gods." 

Assuredly the lot of the peasant is not worse to-day than 
it was in the brave days of old ; but the fact remains that 

•For plague, see Sir Thomas Roe (Ed. Hakluyt Society), pp. 307, 
375, SOS. P'or famine, see Sir Theodore Morison, Economic Trantxtion, 
pp. 105-116. 


it ought to be very conspicuously better, and that somehow 
it is not. Taking India all round, it cannot be said that 
the position of the cultivator is satisfactory. There is con- 
flict of evidence as to details. The official view seems to be 
that in some parts of the country, at any rate, the ryot 
shows greater recuperative power after a bad season than 
he formerly did:* the Opposition view is just the reverse. 
Some people hold poverty to be systematically exaggerated 
(as Beraier says it was in the seventeenth century) and talk, 
with Mr. Kipling's philosopher, of the "bloomin' garib adml 
swindle." But the main fact is only too evident, namely, 
that large masses of the agricultural population are in a 
condition of stagnant indigence and indebtedness, and that 
the failure of a single season's crops deprives them even of 
the handful of pulse wliich is all they require to keep body 
and soul together. Why is it that vastly improved external 
conditions have not brought with them a striking advance in 
prosperity .'' 

The reason, in my view, is simple: namely, that the benefit 
of good government is, in part at any rate, nullified, when 
the people take advantage of it, not to save and raise their 
standard of living, but to breed to the very margin of sub- 
sistence. Henry George used to point out that every mouth 
that came into the world brought two hands along with it ; 
but though the physiological fact is undeniable, the economic 
deduction suggested will not hold good except in conditions 
that permit of the profitable employment of the two hands. 
Can they, by increasing the efficiency of cultivation, increase, 
in the necessary ratio, the productivity of a given portion of 
soil.' Or is there fresh soil for them to till? Or can they 

* Speaking from their own observation, ninny British ofTicials of long 
experience assert unliesitiitingly that the peasantry in general are now 
better clothed, better fed, and better able to afford the small conveniences 
of modern life, than they were thirty years ago. 



be applied to the production of commodities exchangeable 
for food? Under present conditions in India, taking it all 
round, the answer to these questions can only be a qualified 
affirmative. The study of intensive cultivation has not yet 
yielded great results, and the peasantry lack the intelli- 
gence, the energy and the capital to profit by such methods 
as have been devised. In many parts there is no new land to 
be taken under cultivation ; and, where expansion is possible, 
it is to be presumed that, except where irrigation comes into 
play, the new land is of inferior quality.* As for manufac- 
tures, though they do in some measure relieve the strain 
upon the soil, they are as yet so little developed that the 
effect is scarcely felt.f When India first came under British 
control she was already well-populated. She had not, like 
the United States at the same period, or Canada to-day, 
enormous powers of expansion. She had not immense min- 
eral resources to supplement the resources of the soil. She 
had not an eager, energetic, provident breed of agricultur- 
ists, quick to seize upon every method of saving labour and 
increasing produce. What she had was a multitudinous 
peasantry, frugal, indeed, inasmuch as its daily wants were 
small, and industrious in a languid, mechanical way, but 
wasteful in its social habits, incapable of foresight or ra- 
tional thrift, preyed upon by usurers and parasites, and 
regarding procreation as the most sacred of all duties. It 
is true that its marriage customs did not really make for 

* "In 1880," said Lord Curzon in 1901, "there were onlj- 194 millions 
of acres under cultivation in India. There are now 217 millions, or an 
increase in virtually the same ratio as the increase in population." The 
average quality of the additional 23 million acres does not appear. If 
it was better than that of the 194 millions the result would be a real ad- 
dition to the resources of the country. But the chances are that the 
average quality was poorer, in which case the ratio between population 
and subsistence was altered for the worse. 

t In 1911, the total nimaber of persons employed in factories fell 
something short of 850,000. 


healthy fecundity, and that there were many checks upon 
increase which would not have been operative in a more 
enlightened community. Still, peace and order did their 
work, and the population steadily grew. Though every 
million mouths was accompanied by two million hands, that 
was far from meaning that production increased twice as 
fast as consumption. There must have come a point after 
which the hands failed even to keep pace with the mouths; 
and, as the utmost margin of productivity was approaclied, 
each new pair of hands meant a relatively diminished re- 
turn. This being so, what wonder that the mass of the 
people remained poor.'' The root of Indian poverty lies in 
the fact that the people at large have no will to be rich, or 
even well-to-do. Not till they yearn to "want more wants" 
will they learn to take thought how to supply them. 

The argument of the foregoing paragraph may be thus 
summed up: The productivity of a given portion of soil is 
a function of three factors: natural quality (including cli- 
matic conditions), artificial methods, and the labour required 
to apply these methods. Tlie first two factors remaining 
constant, there is a limit to the amount of the third which 
can profitably come into action. If ten pairs of hands are 
sufficient to extract from a field all that its natural quality 
and the prevailing methods will enable it to produce, fifteen 
pairs of hands will reap no richer harvest, but will reduce 
by a third the quantity of grain assignable to each mouth.* 
If the additional five pairs of hands can break new soil, so 
far good; but, under Indian conditions, the chances are that 
the new soil will be poorer, and the share of each of the 
fifteen will still be less, perhaps very much less, than the 
shares of the original ten. This, I suggest, is a picture in 

* I am told that this is an inaccurate representation of the Law of 
Diminishing Returns; but I do not think it substantially misrepresents 
the facts of the cose. 



little of what is constantly going on in India — the popula- 
tion is constantly tending to outpass the limit of profitable 
employment upon the soil.* 

Mr. Dadabhai Naoroji, in his presidential address to the 
Indian National Congress of 1893, quoted this passage from 
Macaulay : "To trade with civilized man is infinitely more 
profitable than to govern savages ; that would indeed be a 
doting wisdom which, in order that India might remain a 
dependency, would . . . keep a hundred millions of men 
from being our customers, in order that they might continue 
to be our slaves." After the words "a hundred millions" 
Mr. Naoroji inserted in parenthesis "now really 
221,000,000;" but it does not seem to have occurred to him 
that in this vast increase, unaccompanied by a commen- 
surate increase of productivity, whether of food or of com- 
modities exchangeable for food, he had found the key to the 
poverty which he and his fellow-congressmen were always 

* The land-revenue statistics of the past fifty years may seem, at 
first sight, to conflict with this theory, showing, as they do, an increase 
proportionally greater than the increase of population. From this it 
would seem to follow, either that the share of produce claimed by the 
Government has greatly increased, or that the additional population 
has found means to make more than a proportional addition to the prod- 
uce of the land. Now the share exacted in taxation has certainly in- 
creased very little, if at all; wherefore we would seem to be thrown 
back on the other alternative. But the surface meaning of the figures 
proves, on examination, to be wholly misleading. To interpret them 
aright we have to take into account, firstly, the faU in the value of the 
rupee, secondly, the rise in prices. "The total increase in the gross 
land revenues during the past fifty years," says a Government memo- 
randum of 1909, "has been 60 per cent., measured in rupees; but, as the 
gold value of the rupee has fallen from 24d. to 16d., the increase, if 
measured in gold, is less than six per cent." And again, "As wheat has 
risen in value by 100 per cent., a given money assessment now represents 
a very much smaller portion of the produce than in 1858." I do not 
know that exact figures are available, but there is little doubt that the in- 
crease of land revenue, measured in produce, is smaller in proportion 
than the increase either of population or of cultivated soil, 





(and rightly) bewailing. It is probable that Macaulay's 
rough estimate of 100,000,000 was under the mark, and 
that the population had not actually increased by 120 per 
cent. But even if we reduce that figure by one-sixth and 
assume an increase of 100 per cent., is it not manifest that 
this must mean a terrible strain upon resources at no time 

And, spite of famine, plague, malaria, child-marriages, 
and all the ills that Indian life is heir to, the increase still 
goes on. After deduction of the figures for areas not 
previously enumerated, the increase of the thirty years be- 
tween 1881 and 1911 works out at a little under 50,000,000 
— just about the whole population of over-populated Japan.* 
The decade 1901-1911 witnessed an increase of over 
19,000,000; twelve and a half millions in British territory, 
six and a half millions in States and Agencies. The potency 
of the check exercised by famine and disease is apparent 
in the extraordinary fluctuations of the rate of growth. 
Mr. E. A. Gait, director of the Census of 1911, after elimi- 
nating all causes of error, estimates the real increase between 
1872 and 1911 as follows: 

1872-1881 .... 3,000,000 

1881-1891 .... 25,000,000 

1891-1901 .... 4,300,000 

1901-1911 .... 19,000,000 

Referring to the assertion that Indian fecundity is less than 
"normal," Mr. Gait points out that "tlicre is no such thing 
as a nomial rate of increase. All tliat can be said is that 

•This means that, nssuniinjr the India of 1881 to hnvc hccn just able 
to support herself, with very little over, a development of her resources, 
equivalent to the whole resources of ,Iapan, ought to have taken place 
in thirty years, if she was not to find herself sensibly poorer per head of 



since 1872 * the average increment has been about 5 per 
cent, per decade" — which is less than that of the Teutonic 
races and greater than that of the Latin races. It is ob- 
vious that a country subject, as India is, to pestilence and 
calamitous drought, is not likely, other things being equal, 
to show so large a rate of increase as countries in which 
better climatic and hygienic conditions prevail. But such 
comparisons are irrelevant to the present question. We are 
not discussing the relative prosperity of India and other 
countries, but simply considering the fundamental equation 
between mouths and food. If mouths increase in a higher 
ratio than food, the tendency must be towards greater pov- 
erty, no matter what may happen in other parts of the 
world, t 

We have seen above that, both in area and in population, 
India is practically equal to the whole of Europe minus 
Russia. If, now, we consider what an immense proportion 
of the people of Western Europe are concentrated in towns, 
and are occupied in manufacture and trade — drawing their 
sustenance, that is to say, largely from other portions of the 
world — is it not e'vident that the strain upon the soil must 
be incalculably greater in India than in Europe? India 
imports food-stuffs (mainly sugar) to the value of some ten 
millions a year; but she exports food-stuffs (mainly rice and 
wheat) to more than double that value; which means that 
she feeds not only herself, but a considerable number of 
other people, from her soil alone. Here, no doubt, is a real 

* Up to which date no exact statistics were available. 

t The views expressed in the above paragraphs are in general borne 
out in a singularly able book, entitled The Population Problem in, India, 
by Mr. P. K. Wattal, of the Indian Finance Department (Bombay: 
Bennett, Coleman & Co., 1916). I cannot too strongly commend to all 
who are interested in the subject this intelligent, lucid and thoroughly 
well-informed study. 


"drain," * a symptom of unsatisfactory economic condi- 
tions, to wliich over-taxation may 2:)ossibly contribute; but 
this is not the same thing as the alleged "drain" in payment 
or over-payment for services. 

I am not denying that if such over-payment exists — if 
security, stability and good administration could be bought 
at a cheaper rate — the over-payment must help to impover- 
ish the country. If my argument in preceding sections 
holds good, India buys her defence and administration far 
cheaper than most other countries ; and tlie fact that these 
benefits have, for the present, to be in some measure pur- 
chased from abroad, is her misfortune, not our fault. This 
does not prove, however, that good govenmient might not be 
bought on even more advantageous terms ; and still less does 
it prove that the government for which India pays might not 
be a better, wiser, more far-seeing government. In pleading 
for economy, and in urging measures conducive to general 
well-being, the Indian Opposition is performing a natural 
and laudable function ; nor would one quarrel with it because 
its arguments are sometimes one-sided and its recommenda- 
tions not always practicable. But I suggest that its remon- 
strances would be far more telling (and perhaps a little less 
querulous) if it did not close its eyes to the fundamental 
fact that over-population lies at the root of Indian poverty, 
and that Government is not to blame for this, except in so 
far as good government removes the checks upon fecundity 
which bad government incidentally imposes. Roughly speak- 
ing, the population of India has doubled under British rule: 
could there be a more conclusive testimony to its general 

* Many people hold that it ought to l>c checked by restrictions on 
the export of grain; but economic experience seems to show tlmt this 
is an illusory remedy, inasmuch as "auy enactment which artificially 
lowers the price reduces the quantity of grain raised in a country." 
See MorisoD, Economic Tramition, Chap. V. 



beneficence in all matters which government can control? 
That the thrift, the prudence, the energy, the intelligence 
of the mass of the people have not similarly increased may, 
indeed, be partly attributable to government, which may 
not have done all that was ideally possible for education and 
economic progress. But every reasonable Indian must surely 
admit that no government can remake a people ; they must 
do that for themselves. So long as the Indian people, re- 
maining dependent on the soil, continue to breed up to the 
margin of subsistence in good seasons, they will continue to 
suffer in bad seasons.* Here is a very significant passage 
from Baden-Powell's great work upon The Land Systems of 
British India (Vol. I., p. 346) : 

"Nothing can be more curious than the result of a low assess- 
ment, whether fixed for ever or not. In one large district at least, 
where a low assessment was secured for thirty years, the result 
has been, not that a wealthy class has arisen, but simply that all 
restraint has vanished and the poor population has multiplied to 
such an extent that the wealth accumulated is not more able to 
support the increased mass of people than the former resources 
were to feed the then existing numbers. Under native custom 
properties become sub-divided and again sub-divided till their 
value is frittered away; the money-lender steps in, and land 
begins to aggregate in the hands of a class alien to agricultural 
knowledge and interests. ... I must add the notorious fact that 
in weU-managed Native States, where the revenue is double, per- 

* The true meaning of famine is thus clearly stated by Sir Theodore 
Morison; "When the monsoon rains fail, Nature pronounces a lock-out 
in the agricultural industry that throws ninety per cent, of the popula- 
tion of the district affected out of work for the whole year." Famine 
relief, now admirably organized and administered, may minimize the 
actual mortality; but famine relief can only mean, of course, a sort of 
national insurance against the effects of drought — a spreading of the 
loss over the whole land, those parts which do not directly suffer being 
taxed for the benefit of those which do. 


haps four times, as high as in British districts, the people are ap- 
parently as prosperous." 

Need we look any further for the main reason of the 
poverty in India? In the face of these facts, can we plaus- 
ibly attribute it to over-taxation? Mr. Gokhale would make 
Government further responsible for two subsidiary facts: 
the decreasing fertility of the soil and the increasing death- 
rate. He tells us that "over the greater part of India agri- 
culture is, as Sir James Caird pointed out more than twenty 
years ago, only a process of exhaustion of the soil," and he 
declares that in the twenty years from 1885 to 1905, the 
average annual death-rate increased by "no less than ten 
per thousand." Assuming the facts to be as stated, where 
does the responsibility of England come in? Is it the fault 
of the Government that from time immemorial the people of 
India have used cow-dung for fuel instead of for manure — 
have flushed their floors with it instead of fertilizing their 
fields — and have multiplied to such a point as to render it 
almost impossible to give the land its necessary periods of 
rest? It may be said that a far-seeing Government would 
have taken steps to provide other sorts of fuel, and perhaps 
other sorts of manure as well. But I have not seen this point 
urged by the Opposition : I have not seen any positive and 
constructive remedial measures proposed. It is so much 
easier to cry out upon the rapacious settlement-officer, and 
to assume that all would be well if peace, order and material 
development could be had for nothing. As for the high 
death-rate, poverty no doubt contributes to it by rendering 
the people less able to resist the ravages of plague, malaria 
and other diseases. If Britain is responsible for India's 
poverty, then she is responsible for whatever part of the 
death-rate is fairly attributable to poverty; but it is un- 
reasonable to bring this forward as a separate charge, an 



additional subject of reproach. If, on the other hand, the 
responsibility for Indian poverty rests, not with Britain, 
but with the Indian people themselves, it is not merely un- 
reasonable but unjust to lay the high death-rate at the door 
of the Government. British rule has brought with it medical 
science, the rudiments, at any rate, of sanitation, and a net- 
work of hospitals and dispensaries at which from twenty- 
five to thirty million patients are annually treated. It may, 
indeed, be argued that Government has not done all that was 
possible in the way of forcing sanitation upon a very re- 
calcitrant people ; but sanitation costs money, and any extra 
expenditure would have meant either additional taxation or 
the diversion of funds from other purposes. "Why not from 
defence.'"' the Opposition cries — and so the endless wrangle 
goes on. It is, of course, impossible to prove that Govern- 
ment estimates rightly the relative urgency of the different 
objects to which it devotes its resources; but it is hard to 
imagine any apportionment at which no one should be found 
to cavil. 


In the question of emigration we find a long-smouldering 
grievance which has recently become acute. Here we must 
carefully distinguish between two very different points at 

India has every right to insist upon fair and humane 
treatment for those of her people who have already been 
induced or allowed to emigrate; and the Government of 
India, though placed in a difficult and delicate position, 
has not been slow to take up their cause. But when Indians 
interpret the word "Empire" as implying the right of un- 
restricted immigration into any country under the British 
flag, the reply must be, in the first place, that "Empire" 


does not connote any such right, and, secondly, that it would 
not be to India's advantage if it did. 

Can India reasonably look to emigration as one of the 
remedies for the evils from which she suffers? I submit 
that, in the present condition of the world, the remedy is 
impossible, and that, if it were possible, it would be illusory. 
Why is it impossible? Because there is no part of the hab- 
itable globe where India can spill her overflow in such num- 
bers as sensibly to relieve the congestion at home, unless she 
is prepared to conquer territory and subdue or exterminate 
the existing occupants. Why is the remedy illusory? Be- 
cause it would merely postpone the facing of her population- 
problem, which India must assuredly undertake before she 
can claim her due place among the civilized nations of the 

Is it conceivable that South Africa, Australia, or Canada 
should permit, except at the sword's point, the invasion of 
their territory by such hordes of Indians as should ap- 
preciably alter the proportion between mouths and food in 
India? There are, between Kashmir and Cape Comorin, 
over three hundred million people. Suppose 4> per cent, of 
them, or 12,000,000, were to emigrate, what difference would 
that make in India? In a single decade (supposing no very 
grave calamity to intervene) the population would have risen 
at least to its former level. But 12,000,000 is very little 
short of the whole white population of South Africa, Aus- 
tralia, and Canada. Is it for a moment to be imagined that 
these countries would submit to having their whole policy, 
their conditions of life and course of development, altered 
by such a huge influx of an alien and unassimilable race? Of 
course, this is a flagrantly impossible contingency ; but that 
only makes it all the clearer that no emigration which is 
practically conceivable would sensibly ameliorate Indian 
conditions. Any outflow that shoidd be at all perceptible 



in India would mean, in other countries, an inflow amounting 
to a cataclysm. But suppose emigration on a large scale 
were possible — suppose, say, that a new India could be set 
apart in Africa, capable of absorbing a million immigrants 
a year for the next half century — would that be a real and 
permanent benefit to the Motherland? On the contrarj', it 
would be a misfortune. It would indefinitely adjourn the day 
when India shall realize that life is to be valued by its qual- 
ity, not its quantity, and that a country which would be 
master of its fate must first be master of its instincts. Of 
course, tliis is a lesson that man}' other peoples are far from 
having taken to heart ; but India has not even begun to learn 
it. She is still unquestioningly devoted to that religion of 
fecundity which she must one day modify unless she is pre- 
pared to conquer the world. 

Let it be realized that tliis is no mere rhetorical phrase. 
The world, indeed, is not yet overfilled ; but the limits of 
possible expansion are being rapidly approached : and prac- 
tically all desirable territorj' is staked-out by people who 
naturally propose to reserve it for development along the 
lines of their own racial traditions. It is quite certain that 
only by force of arms can this right of reser\'ation be in- 
fringed ; and its successful infringement, in a series of "folk- 
wanderings," would mean a relapse into chaos. 

No member of the Indian Opposition (so far as I am 
aware) has manifested an}' clear insight into the importance 
of the population question in its bearings upon the true 
welfare of the country. Nor can it be said that European 
observers have shown themselves keenly alive to it. Sir 
Valentine Chirol, in his book on Indian Unrest, lays it down 
without the least hesitation that "her inexhaustible supplies 
of cheap labour are India's greatest asset." In almost the 
same words a Bombay manufacturer (Muhammadan) re- 
marked to me, "The greatest asset of India is her three 


hundred millions." But how is it possible that cheap labour 
can be a real "asset" to a country? To her capitalists, no 
doubt, it may be, though India forms no exception to the 
rule that cheap labour is bad labour. A vast proletariat, 
with a low standard of living, will doubtless help to swell 
those imposing battalions of figures which prove what may 
be called the statistical prosperity of a country. But sta- 
tistical prosperity has very little to do with real well-being. 
To say that cheajj labour is India's asset is practically the 
same as saying that poverty is India's wealth. And while 
the rj'ot docs not mind how poor he is, so long as he can be 
prolific, it is certain that he, at any rate, will know no other 
form of wealth. 

But emigration, on any considerable scale, being fortu- 
nately impossible, a time must one day come when (with the 
help of vernacular education) the peasant will learn that, 
beyond a certain point, every additional pair of hands mean 
a diminishing return, whether in produce of soil or in wages, 
and will gradually adjust the equation between labour and 
remunerative opportunity. He will learn to "want more 
wants," and will rise above that extreme of frugality wliich 
may rather be called apathy. Then India will be on the high 
road to real wealth — not that wealth which consists in the 
exploitation of her "greatest asset." 

"But what about irrigation.''" it nuiy be asked. "Might 
not she still add indefinitely to her 300,000,000 if the Gov- 
ernment did not culpably neglect irrigation in order to mul- 
tiply railway's.''" Unfortunately — or, in my view, fortu- 
nately — there is a limit to the potentialities of irrigation, 
and experts declare it to be well within sight. Redistribution 
of population might no doubt permit of a certain amount 
of increase without any further pressure on the margin of 
subsistence; but in a country where local attachments are 
so strong, and differences of race, caste and language so 



many, redistribution is no easy matter. Sooner or later, 
at all events, the pinch must come, and India must learn 
that her salvation lies, not in numerical expansion, whether 
within or without her boundaries, but in the intensification 
and ennoblement of Ufe. 

The moral grievances on which the Indian Opposition is 
in the habit of dwelling may be classed, Uke the material 
grievances, under three heads : 

(1) Neglect of education. 

(2) Exclusion from civil emploj'ment. 

(3) Denial of opportunity for military training. 

MoEAL Gkievaxces — I. Neglect of Education. 

The first and second complaints I shall not here discuss 
at length. On the question of education there is a good 
deal to be said in another chapter. For the moment, it 
may be sufficient to point out that when Indian extremists 
accuse the Government (as they sometimes do) of deliber- 
ately keeping India in darkness, for its own oppressive ends, 
they are talking very wildly. As regards Western education, 
with English as its medium, the Government is open only to 
the reproach of having supplied, with perhaps inconsiderate 
la%'ishness, an article which, though not very satisfactory, 
was the best it had to give. In the face of numberless 
warnings that it was thereby sapping its own position,* it 
deliberately set about the creation of that educated class, 
to which, as the prophets foretold, we owe "the unrest" 
of the present day. It might easily have satisfied its con- 
science by promoting only Oriental education — a course 
which many people urged upon it, as its one clear dut}-. 

* See the views on this point of Elphinstone, Metcalfe and Lyall, 
pp. 304-306. These are only specimens of a host of similar utterances. 



By this means it would have saved itself a great deal of 
trouble, and indefinitely retarded the development of India, 
both intellectual and material. But it chose the other 
course, and called into existence the many excellent Govern- 
ment servants of to-day, as well as the less fortunate multi- 
tude who bitterly complain because, having invested so- 
and-so many rupees in the attainment of a B.A. degree, or 
in the failure to attain one, they find that the lucrative 
posts to which they thereby consider themselves entitled arc 
not unlimited in number. The educational system estab- 
lished some sixty years ago might no doubt have been very 
much better ; but its defects were those of English education 
in general, which the Government of India could scarcely be 
expected to reform. In this department, in short, whatever 
criticisms of detail may be admissible, the Government can- 
not reasonably be charged with any lack either of diligence 
or of good will. 

In vernacular education, on the other hand, it is true 
that little has been done in proportion to the vast work that 
remains to Ix" done. Here it is that the Indian Opposition 
has a plausible case. It may be argued that, in spite of the 
poverty of the country, in spite of the indifference, if not 
hostility, to education displayed by the people themselves, 
the Government ought to have done more to combat the 
general illiteracy.* To this end, either fresh taxation would 
have had to be imposed, or large sums must have been 
diverted to education from defence, public works, and other 
heads of expenditure. The latter is, of course, the policy 
urged by the Opposition; and it is clearly impossible to 
prove them wrong. At tlie same time, one would be more 
willing to accept their judgment, if it were not evident in 
many other ways that they are unduly, if not unnaturally, 

* For statistics, see p. 261. 



jealous of any and every expenditure incurred by Govern- 
ment in the interests of its own securitj- and prestige. Wlicn 
one regards a given institution as a necessary evil, one is apt, 
without desiring its overthrow, to scrutinize with a grudging 
eye every halfpenny' of the sums allotted to its maintenance. 
This being so, it is scarcely possible that the Opposition and 
the Government should agree in their estimate of the relative 
importance of the various objects of public expenditure. 
The Government, at all events, is now definitely committed 
to a large and liberal policy in regard to vernacular educa- 
tion; and such is the difficulty of the problem that, for my 
part, I would urge a slow, cautious and thoroughly well- 
prepared advance, rather than a hasty multiplication of ill- 
provided schools and incompetent teachers. 

MoBAL Gklevakces — II. ExcLrsiox fkom 
Ci\aL Employment. 

Perhaps the bitterest complaint of the Opposition is that, 
according to them, the Government has made a dead letter 
of the following clause in Queen Victoria's Proclamation of 
1858, often called the Magna Charta of India: 

It is our wiU that, so far as may be, our subjects, of whatever 
race or creed, be freely and impartially admitted to oflSces in our 
service, the duties of which they may be qualified, by their educa- 
tion, ability and integrity, duly to discharge. 

This mandate has certainly not been made a dead letter; 
but there may have been a tendency to take a narrow and 
prejudiced view of that fitness for the discharge of official 
duties on which the Proclamation naturally insists. 

Again and again I have put to British officials the ques- 
tion, "Do you know any Indians whom you consider to be 


capable of more important employment than they actually 
hold — employment of high responsibility?" The answer has 
almost always been, "Yes, I know two or three." The infer- 
ence seems to be that the Government has, at any rate, not 
proceeded with any undue rapidity in the promotion of 
Indians to places of trust. On the other hand, there is no 
reason to doubt the sincerity of its often-repeated desire to 
advance in tliis direction as far as prudence will permit. 
Many of the most distinguished administrators have ex- 
pressed themselves, both in jjrivate and in public, strongly 
in favour of the policy of the open door. Sir Alfred Lyall, 
for instance, writes in 1882 : "I liave just appointed a native 
judge to the Allahabad High Court, the first who has ever 
been sent there. I want to push on the native wherever I 
can — our only chance of placing Government here on a 
broad and permanent basis." Some of the highest judicial 
appointments are, and have long been, held by Indians, and 
that with great distinction. There is a pretty general opin- 
ion that Indians are better fitted, as yet, for judicial than 
for executive functions ; and one can easil}' understand that 
this may be true. 

The question at issue, in any case, is not one of principle, 
but only of rate of progress. It is certainly at first sight a 
grave injustice that admission to the higher branches of the 
Civil Service should be impossible to Indians who have not 
the means to present themselves for examination in London. 
The objection to simultaneous examinations in England and 
India which is commonly alleged by Anglo-Indians is in a 
sense flattering to Indian self-esteem. "The Hindu has such 
a prodigious memory," it is said, "and is so clever at exam- 
inations, that the Englishman cannot stand up against him. 
But the ability to shine in a competitive examination is not 
in itself a proof of cither the character or the talent required 
in administrative work ; and an English candidate who may 



be defeated by a few marks is much more likely than his 
Hindu rival to develop these qualities." As matters stand 
at present, there is something in this argument. It may be 
maintained that the voyage to England is in itself a valuable 
part of the test of fitness to which Indian candidates ought 
to be subjected. The poor, no doubt, are thereby absolutely 
excluded; but they could scarcely qualify even for simul- 
taneous examinations. If young men of the wealthy and 
well-to-do classes have not sufficient wiU and energy to 
undertake the joumej', the inference is (it may be said) 
that their character does not fit them for responsible posi- 
tions. It is certainly hard to conceive that an Indian who. 
was prevented by religious scruples from crossing the kala 
pani could be an eflBcient administrator. 

On the whole, and with all sympathy for the natural 
impatience of educated Indians, I do not find it proven that 
Government could, with advantage to the common weal, 
have gone much faster and farther in this matter than it 
has actually done. The report of the recent Public Services 
Commission, however, does not recommend any very drastic 
changes. As regards the Civil Service, the proposal of the 
Commissioners is that "roughly three-quarters of the su- 
perior posts be recruited for in England, and one quarter in 
India." In the public works and railway (engineering) de- 
partments, they propose that "provision be made for ob- 
taining half the staff from India." I cannot find that 
materials are given for a very exact 'comparison between the 
results to be produced by these proposals and the existing 
state of things. It appears, however, that in 1913, of 
officials drawing salaries of £400 a year and upwards, 19 
per cent, were Indians, while of officials drawing (roughh^) 
£600 a year and upwards, 10 per cent, were Indians. As 
most, if not all, the "superior posts" alluded to will prob- 
ably fall within the latter class, it appears that the pro- 


posal is to raise the proportion of such posts held by Indians 
from 10 per cent, to 25 per cent, of the whole. This will 
scarcely be regarded, even by moderate Indian opinion, as 
more than an installment of the desired reform; but because 
such an installment is now due, it docs not follow that it 
has been long overdue, or that it could with advantage be 
greatly increased at the present moment. 

It seems abundantly clear, however, that henceforward 
every effort should be made to educate, and to employ in 
responsible posts, a large class of efficient Indian civil serv- 
ants. This is evidently an indispensable preliminary to that 
fitness for self-government which, in my view, both principle 
and poUcy should urge us to promote. So long as the 
opposite ideal is dominant — so long as our rule is supposed 
to be justified by an incurable incapacity for self-direction 
on the part of the Indian people — it is clear that every offi- 
cial of Indian race labours under a very severe disadvantage. 
He is handicapped even in the eyes of his own people, who 
are apt to criticize his proceedings as those of an amateur, 
admitted by some fluke to the heaven-born ruling caste. 
There is no reason to doubt the anecdotes one frequently 
hears of the preference for "sahib" officials, sometimes amus- 
ingly manifested by Indian villagers. But this is a state of 
things which is probably changing of its own accord, and 
which, in any case, we should make it our business to alter. 
The encouragement, and not the depression, of every legiti- 
mate form of Indian energy should be the constant aim of a 
wise government. We should ti-y to abridge, not to protract, 
the term of our trusteeship. But one proviso should per- 
haps be suggested — namely, that the growth of a class of 
competent Government servants would not necessarily im])ly 
the fitness of the country for independence. It is possible, 
and even probable, that such a class may have come into ex- 
istence long before national unitv is finnly established and 



the mass of the people is sufficiently civilized to dispense en- 
tirely with external influence and guidance. 

Moral Grievances — III. Denial of Opportunity for 

Military Training. 

For an official statement of the third grievance, I turn 
once more to Mr. Gokhale. In his Budget speech of 1906 
he said : 

Japan's ordinary Budget for the army is only about 37-3 mil- 
hons yen * or a little under six crores of rupees. And for so 
small an expenditure it has a standing army of 167,000 men, with 
reserves which can raise it to over 600,000 men in time of war. 
We spend nearly six times as much money a year, and yet in re- 
turn for it we have only an inexpansive force of about 230,000 
men, with about 25,000 native reservists, and about 30,000 Euro- 
pean volunteers ! Both on financial and on political grounds, 
therefore, our present unnational system of military defence is 
open to the gravest objection. My Lord, I respectfully submit 
that it is a cruel wrong to a whole people — one-fifth of the entire 
population of the world — to exclude them from all honourable 
participation in the defence of their hearths and homes, to keep 
them permanently disarmed, and to subject them to a process 
of demartialization such as has never before been witnessed in 
the history of the world. f 

* If this figure was correct in 1906, Japan's military expenditure must 
have doubled in six years. In the Budget of 1913-13 it stands at 76,790,- 
438 yen, while an additional 17i/i millions are put down as "extraor- 
dinary" expenditure. 

t "Japan," Mr. Gokhale continued, "came under the influence of 
Western ideas only forty years ago, and yet already under the fostering 
care of its Government, that nation has taken its place by the side of 
the proudest Nations of the West. We have been under England's rule 
longer than forty years, and yet we continue to be mere hewers of wood 
and drawers of water in our own country, and, of course, we have no 
position anywhere else." 


Again, in his Budget speech of the following year (1907), 
Mr. Gokhale said, "The wrong inflicted on all classes of the 
Indian communitj indiscriminately by keeping them com- 
pulsorily disarmed — thereby slowly crushing all manhood 
out of the whole race — must be cautiously but steadily aet 

In tills argument we have a typical example of three 
habitual practices of the Indian Opposition: (1) AppeaUng 
to the experience of Japan, while ignoring the heaven-wide 
difference between the conditions of Japan and those of 
India. (2) Assuming, in defiance of all the evidence, a 
general superiority of the past over the present. (3) Ad- 
mitting, in one breath, the necessity, for an indefinite time 
at any rate, of British rule, and in the next breath com- 
plaining bitterly of measures plainly indispensable to its 

Japan is, of all countries, the most unlike to India. The 
Japanese are more nearly homogeneous than any other na- 
tion on earth. The}' have inhabited their islands since the 
dawn of history. Though they themselves were doubtless 
invaders in the first instance, no other invader has ever set 
foot on the soil of Nippon. They have always been in 
theory, and generally- in practice, a single na"tion, united 
under one ruler, who is at present the object of universal 
and passionate loyalty. The two religions they profess are 
not mutually' exclusive, but subsist together in unbroken 
harmony. Japan, in short, is, botii historically and actu- 
aDy, the most perfect example in the world of national unity, 
while its power of self-protection and self-direction is con- 
spicuous and indubitable. In all these points — and tliey are 
fundamental — India presents the most glaring contrast. I 
need not recapitulate the differences; let me only say that 
it is impossible to name a single resemblance or analogy, 
historical or actual. Wh}-, then, attempt to argue from the 



one country to the other, and reproach the Government of 
India for not imitating the Government of Japan? If the 
racial, geographical and historical conditions of the two 
countries were in the least alike, the English would not be in 
India at all. Since they are there, they must act in ac- 
cordance with tlie conditions of India, and not of Japan. 

What, now, of the "demartialization of India," the 
"crushing of its manhood.'"' One woidd naturally con- 
clude from such language, that England had found in India 
a highly-developed system of citizen service, and had de- 
liberately put it down. As a matter of fact, India is as 
"martial" to-day as she ever was, except in so far as she 
no longer offers a happy hunting-ground for armies of 
robbers and marauders. She has 150,000 Indian regular 
troops, 20,000 Imperial Service troops and nearly 40,000 
reservists — an army practically equal to the estimated hosts 
of the Mogul Emperors, and far superior to them in dis- 
cipline, appointments and every essential of soldiership. 
True, there were other armies in India in the Mogul period; 
but so there are to-day. The troops of the Indian princes 
may not be very efficient, but at least they are not denied 
the advantages (such as they are) of military training. 
Again, there is an army in India to-day of which the Moguls 
knew nothing — I mean the police-force of nearly 200,000. 
It is not altogether a satisfactory body, but at all events it 
cannot be said that the police are having the manhood 
crushed out of them. In brief, there are in India something 
like half-a-million men under some sort of military training, 
and more than 150,000 of them very liighly trained. The 
statistics of former periods are too vague to permit of an 
exact numerical comparison. The plain fact is — and it 
cannot be seriously contested — that if India was ever more 
"martial" than to-day, it was only in so far as large num- 


bers were employed in purely noxious military occupations, 
whether intestine war or undisguised brigandage. 

We have not "demartialized" India; but have we done 
her a wrong in not taking pains to "martialize" her? 
Ought we to have established a system of citizen service, 
or a strong and well-trained Indian volunteer-force? Who 
can rationally demand that a government situated as is 
the Britisii Government of India should deliberately call into 
being "a nation in arms?" To do so would be not only a 
suicidal folly, but a gross betrayal of trust. The very 
foundations of our rule in India lie in the fact that India 
requires protection, not only against external, but against 
internal dangers — in other words, protection against her- 
self. He who does not admit this, ought clearly to make no 
terms with the British raj. To accept its employment or 
to enter its councils, even as one of a permanent Opposition, 
is implicitly to own that India is not yd ripe for self- 
government, and that, for the present at any rate, the over- 
throw of the British rule would be a disaster. And this 
the Indian Opposition does freely admit, not only implicitly 
but explicith', and (one cannot doubt) sincerely. Where is 
the sense, tlien, in making it a grievance that we do not arm 
India to her own undoing? In the best-governed country 
there are always ample subjects of discontent, and always 
politicians to make the most and the worst of them. When 
the wisest of Indians, like Mr. Gokhale, can talk of our 
inflicting "cruel and iniquitous wrongs" upon his country, 
what wonder if unwise and liot-hcadcd agitators should use 
even stronger language, and sliould find tliousands of people 
to listen to tiiem? Painful experience proves that such 
agitators abound — men who are unbalanced enougii to be- 
lieve that independent anarciiy would be preferable to 
dependent law and order. If, then, these men could appeal 



to a vast populace in arms, one of two things would be 
inevitable: either the violent end of the British rule, or such 
an enormous addition to the British garrison as would in 
very truth cinash the country to ruin under the load of mili- 
tarism. The latter alternative is quite unthinkable. Those 
who demand the arming of the people are so clearly making 
for the former alternative, that it is hard to see what 
meaning they attach to their protestations of loyalty.* 

Is it for a moment to be expected, or, in the interests 
of India, to be desired, that England should deliberately 
face another and a greater Mutiny? The Mutinj', according 
to Mr. Gokhale himself,t was a "serious disaster. . . . The 
cloud of distrust, suspicion and prejudice then raised still 
hangs over the country, and casts its blighting shadow 
over, more or less, the whole of our Indian finance." Whether 
this is true of finance in particular, we need not inquire; 
but it is undeniable that the Mutiny gave us a stern warning 
against the policy of fatuous tnastfulness in which it con- 
fessedly originated. Mr. Gokhale, in a very curious passage 
of the document above cited, makes it a point of complaint 
that India had to pay the whole cost of the suppression of 
the Mutiny. "England," he says, "contributed absolutely 
nothing, though her responsibilit}' was possibly greater 
than ours, in consequence of the withdrawal of European 
regiments from the country, despite the protest of the 
Government of India, for ser\'ice in the Crimea and Persia." 
This means, in effect, that England, in blind over-con- 

• Mr. GokhaJe, as we have seen, admits that the arming of the people 
must be gone about "cautiously." But unless and until immense nvunbers 
are armed, the manhood which is being "crushed out of the whole race" 
cannot, in terms of his argument, be restored. It might perhaps be 
suggested to him that manhood can be attained and proved in other 
ways than by the bearing of arms. 

t See his evidence before the Welby Commission of 1897. 



fidence,* upset the balance of military power in India, and 
ought therefore to have paid the price of her folly in hard 
cash, as well as in the lives of men, women and children. 
The contention is an odd one at best; but it is doubly 
strange as proceeding from a pohtician who calls it a "cruel 
wrong'' tliat we do not permanently destroy any possibility 
of a balance of power by creating a nation in arms. 

A Chosen People. 

I am far from suggesting that the Indian Opposition has 
no legitimate functions, or even that, on the whole, it mis- 
takes its function and does no good. My point is that 
there is a fundamental inconsistency in its attitude towards 
the British i-ule; that wliile it wills the end, it grumbles at 
the means ; and that it constantly lays to the charge of 
Government evils rooted in the history of the country and 
character of the people — evils wiiich Government does not 
cause, and can cure, if at all, only by aid of the people them- 
selves, and of Time. 

Especially must one regret that the wisest of Indians 
cannot get over the inveterate habit of admitting in one 
breath that India's past is her disaster, and asserting in the 
next that it is her glory and her pride. The two prop- 
ositions are not absolutely irreconcilable ; but the first 
alone is of any practical moment. If only the Indian poli- 
tician would cling fast to that, and give up talking as 
though British rule had involved a decline from some high 
estate of splendour and felicity, he would do much to liast(-n 
the advent of a brighter future. 

•The withdrawal of British troops was not the only or the main 
symptom of over-confidence. There are few things in history more 
pathetically ludicrous than the infatuated belief of many British officers 
in the loyalty of their Sepovs. 



Here is the admirable peroration of a speech by Mr. 
Gokhale on Lord Curzon's Indian Universities Act : 

To my mind, the greatest work of Western education in the 
present state of India is not so much the encouragement of learn- 
ing, as the liberation of the Indian mind from the thraldom of 
old-world ideas, and the assimilation of all that is highest and 
best in the life and thought and character of the West. For this 
purpose, not only the highest, but all Western education is use- 
ful. I think Englishmen should have more faith in the influ- 
ence of their history and their literature. And whenever they are 
inclined to feel annoyed at the utterances of a discontented B.A., 
let them realize that he is but an accident in the present period 
of transition in India, and that they should no more lose faith 
in the results of Western education on this account than should 
my countrymen question the ultimate aim of British rule in this 
land, because not every Englishman who comes out to India 
realizes the true character of England's mission there. 

Whatever we may think of the opposition to Lord 
Curzon's Act, there is no question that this particular pas- 
sage is wisely and generously inspired. But the same 
speaker, addressing the National Congress at Benares two 
years later, said of Lord Curzon: 

Thus the man who professed in all sincerity, before he assumed 
the reins of office, his great anxiety to show the utmost deference 
to the feelings and even the prejudices of those over whom he 
was set to rule, ended by denouncing in unmeasured terms not 
only the present generation of Indians, but also their remote an- 
cestors, and even the ideals of their race which they cherish above 
everything else.* 

Now it may be admitted that Lord Curzon's Convocation 

* Again, at the New Reform Club in London, Mr. Gokhale reproached 
Lord Curzon with "attacking not only the educated classes of to-day, 
but also their ancestors, of whom he knows nothing, and the ideals of 
their race, of which every Indian is justly proud." 


speech of 1905 was more conspicuous for candour than for 
tact, but it is hard to discover in it any denunciation of 
Indian ideals, old or new. Supi>osing, however, that the 
Viceroy had denounced certain "ideals of the race," why 
should Mr. Gokhale have been so bitterly resentful.'' How 
could he join in the clamour of outraged racial suscepti- 
bility, he, who had admitted, and even insisted, that the 
work of education is to "liberate the Indian mind from 
the thraldom of old-world ideas".'' It may be said that 
ideas and ideals are not the same thing; but if an ideal 
is not an idea, and a dominant idea, what is it? Ideas, as 
such, do not enthral the mind; even a false idea (the idea, 
for instance, of a flat earth resting on an elephant) does 
no particular harm ; it is only when false, barbarous or 
imbecile ideas take on the semblance of ideals that they 
establish a "thraldom" from which the mind has to be 
"liberated." No wire-drawn verbal distinctions will explain 
away the radical inconsistency between Mr. Gokhale's two 
utterances. In the one he was speaking as a man of sense 
and enlightenment, in the other as an Indian "patriot" who 
cannot endure to hear an unpopular Viceroy say of his 
people what he perfectly well knows to be true, and what, 
on occasion, he is prepared to say himself. This is a not 
unaniiable human weakness ; we are all willing to say of our 
country things that we should resent if foreigners repeated 
them; but the Indian Opposition can only create friction 
and retard progress by identifying patriotism with racial 

Towards the close of the speech which caused so much 
exasperation. Lord Curzon, addressing the graduating 
students of Calcutta University, spoke as follows: 

"To all of you who have the ambition to rise, I would say — 
Use your student days to study the history and circumstances of 



your race. Study its literature and the literature of Europe. 
. . . Compare the two; see what are tlieir lessons or their warn- 
ings. Then equip yourselves with a genuine and manly love for 
your own people. . . . Avoid the tyranny of faction and the poi- 
son of racial bitterness. Do not arm yourselves against phan- 
tasms, but fight against the real enemies to the welfare of your 
people, which are backwardness and ignorance, and antiquated 
social prescriptions. Look for your ideals, not in the air of 
heaven, but in the lives and duties of men. Learn that the true 
salvation of India will not come from without, but must be cre- 
ated from within." 

This may fairly be called the gist of the speech, and it 
is hard to see why it should have been received with fury.* 
It differed only in one important particular from the follow- 
ing passage from a speech by a very distinguished Indian 
patriot, the late Mr. Justice Ranade, of whom Mr. Gokhale 
is proud to call himself a disciple: "The true end of j'our 
work," said Mr. Ranade, "is to renovate, to purify, and also 
to perfect the whole man by liberating his intellect, elevating 
his standard of duty, and developing to the full all his 
powers. Till so renovated, purified and perfected, we can 
never hope to be what our ancestors once were — a chosen 
people, to whom great tasks were allotted, and by whom 
great deeds were performed." Lord Curzon's admonition 
is very much the same as Mr. Ranade's, except for his 
omission to assure his hearers that their ancestors were "a 

* The main cause of offence lay in the following passage : "I Jiope 
I am making no false or arrogant claim when I say that the highest 
ideal of truth is to a large extent a Western conception. I do not thereby 
mean to claim that Europeans are universally or even generally truthful, 
stiU less do I mean that Asiatics deliberately or habitually deviate from 
the truth. . . . But undoubtedly truth took a high place in the moral 
code of the West before it had been similarly honoured in the East, where 
craftiness and diplomatic wile have always been held in much repute." 
The point of historic priority may be disputable; not so the substantial 
justice of the remark. 


chosen people." If only the Indian Opposition would under- 
stand, once for all, that "chosen peoples" are an illusion, 
and that there are few peoples who have less excuse than 
themselves for yielding to the illusion, they would shorten 
by years, and perhaps by centuries, the period of their 

But, when all is said and done, we must not wonder over 
much at the captiousness of the Indian Opposition. It is 
not for a moment to be expected that they should accept 
British rule with effusive gratitude, as a good in itself. In 
itself it is at best a reminder of India's failure to shape 
her own destinies : a testimony' to her lack of internal unit}-, 
of self-assertive vigour, and of political capacity. The 
utmost that the Opposition can sincerely admit is that the 
present state of things is the least of several evils :* a less 
evil than anarchy; a less evil than subjection to any other 
people, whether European or Asiatic. Nor is it to be 
expected that his citizenship of the British Empire can do 
much to restore the Indian's self-esteem. India's relation to 
the Empire is that of a customer rather than a partner. 
She buys peace, order and security; and I have tried to 
show that she gets them on very reasonable tenns. But 
men who hold the contrary opinion are not likely to think 
that bargain a bettor one because they have the honour 
and glory of Imperial citizenship thrown in. 

Is there no other commodity that we can cast into the 
scale to make the bargain advantageous beyond all doubt, 
and to silence, or at any rate mitigate, the grumblings of 
our customers? Certainly there is such a commodity; we 
are all the time heaping it into the scale; but we perversely 

* "India suflFers from two evils," said a Nationalist orator at Oxford 
the other day: "First English education, second English rule." To 
which the obvious answer is that, but for English rule, the numeration 
of her ills would not be so short and easy. 



insist on keeping up an oflBcial pretence that we are not. We 
are giving India what she has never had before — unity, 
cohesion, in a word, nationality. We are endowing her with 
political ideals and ambitions, and are laboriously qualifying 
her to take her place among the great nations of the future. 
These things we are doing, whether we like it or no ; and 
many of us have always realized it and gloried in it. But 
ofBcially we must needs deny it; officially we must denounce 
as disloyal any suggestion that our rule in India is destined 
to sene a great purpose, and that, when once that pur- 
pose is achieved, it may naturally and rightly end. If we 
could only unlearn this short-sighted habit, we might count 
upon a welcome change in the attitude of all Indian poli- 
ticians, except the fanatics of anarchy. And even they 
would be largely disarmed. 

The moment our rule becomes confessedly a means to 
an end, and that end the creation of an enhghtened, pros- 
perous, autonomous India, it ceases to be in any true sense 
humiliating. The disciple is not humiliated before his 
teacher, the patient before his physician. AU rational 
Indians admit that, whatever may have been her spiritual 
glories, India, as a whole, has hitherto shown no great 
political capacity. "God," says Mr. Gokhale, "does not 
give everything to every people, and India in the past 
was not known for that love of liberty and that appreciation 
of free institutions, which one finds to be so striking a 
characteristic of the West." The same authority, and with 
him all his thinking fellow-countrymen, confesses the "enor- 
mous difficulties of enabling the Indian people to govern 
themselves according to the higher standards of the West." * 
These obvious truths admitted, there can be no shame in 
accepting instruction in self-government at the hands of a 

• Address to the New Refonn Club, London, November IS, 190S. 



country which has undoubtedly set the standard for the 
world in that art; and it follows from the very terms of the 
case that the process of instruction must be slow. But when 
the guru turns upon, his cliela and says, "You can never 
master this art, and it is not intended that you should: 
on the contrary, my personal welfare and glory are bound 
up in keeping you in a state of perpetual subjection" — what 
wonder if the chela grows sullen and resentful, and accuses 
his preceptor of avarice and base self-interest in everything 
he does? Once let the Indian Opposition feel that we sin- 
cerely and cordially invite their co-operation towards the 
one great end we both have in view — the building-up of a 
united, self-sufficing, self-controlled Indian nation — and the 
whole tone of their criticism will alter for the better. There 
will still be plenty of room for discussion, especially, one can 
foresee, as to the rate at which progress is being made, and 
the amount of acceleration that can safely be attempted. 
But the sting of subjection will be removed when it is 
recognized as an apprenticeship, and not as an unalterable 
status. Both parties will approach the common task in a 
much better temper ; and the ideal of deliberative efficiency — 
the generation of light without heat — will perhaps be within 
measurable distance of acliievement. 




Indian art may be regarded in two aspects: as a reflection 
of the soul of the people in the past, and as one of the 
influences which must shape the soul of the future. In other 
words, it is at once a key to the national psychology and a 
factor in the problem of education. 

The term "art" is here understood as covering all sesthetic 
activities: not only architecture, sculpture, painting and 
music, but all literature that is not primarily religious or 
philosophical. The Vedic hymns are ruled out, for two 
reasons. In the first place, though scholars assure us that 
they contain some great lyric poetry, they are primarily 
religious rather than aesthetic utterances. In the second 
place, the emotions they express cannot fairly be called 
those of Indians, but rather of an invading race not yet 
subdued to the climatic and ethnic influences which have 
made the Indian people as they emerge into the light of 
history. Even if we suppose all the hymns to have origi- 
nated on Indian soil (and this is denied by good authorities) 
they remain the work of an external and as yet unamalga- 
mated race. 

I propose to speak first of Hindu (as distinct from 
Muhammadan) art; then of Hindu literature down to the 
coming of the Muhammadans; then of the influence of Islam 
on the arts of India. Finally, I shall attempt an estimate of 
the evidence offered by Indian art as to the capacities and 
limitations of Indian character. 


Hindu and Buddhist Sculpture. 

European writers, in dealing with Indian art, have gone 
to wild extremes of depreciation and idealization. We have 
on the one hand Sir George Birdwood's dictum that "sculp- 
ture and painting are unknown as fine arts in India." In 
estimating the value of this pronouncement we must remem- 
ber that Sir George Birdwood's definition of fine art, "the 
unfettered and impassioned reaUzation of the ideals kindled 
within us by the things without us," would exclude a great 
deal of the most highly-esteemed religious art of Europe. 
But with whatever qualifications we read it, the statement 
remains excessive. India has certainly not been lacking in 
artistic talent, and abounds in very noteworthy works of 
art, which it is impossible to attribute entirely either to 
foreign influences or to the mechanical reproduction of fixed 
tj'pes. On the other hand, we have Mr. E. B. Havell as the 
chief spokesman of a group of critics who glorify Indian art 
as a supremely great expression of the spirit of man, equal, 
if not superior, to the art of any European people, ancient 
or modern, and owing little or nothing to influences from 
without. This opinion is in my view just as excessive as 
Sir George Birdwood's. It may be said, indeed, to follow 
with a certain plausibility from the initial definitions and 
assumptions of the Havell school of criticism. But tliese 
definitions and assumptions are rather hard to accept. 

The apotheosis of Indian art is clearly allied to the 
general revolt against Renaissance ideals and conventions, 
which has given birth to Post-Impressionism, Futurism, and 
other kindred movements. But there is more in it than this. 
Its mainspring is not really esthetic but theosophical. I 
do not mean that it proceeds specially from the body calling 
themselves Theosopiiists, but that it is based on religio- 
philosophic dogmas to wliicli the term theosophy, in its 



widest sense, may fitly be applied. Whether its leading 
champions would acknowledge themselves Theosophists in 
the narrower sense of the word, I do not know. 

Mr. E. B. Havell is a writer of wide knowledge and no 
small literary power. If whole-hearted, uncompromising 
conviction be a merit in advocacy, then Indian art is indeed 
fortunate in its champion. Let us turn to his Ideals of 
Indian Art* for a few characteristic utterances: 

When we consider (he writes) the esoteric and exclusive char- 
acter of early Aryan culture, we shall begin to realize that what 
seems to be an abnormally slow development in the technic arts 
in Indian civilization was deliberately willed as a part of the 
extraordinary precautions taken by the early Aryan immigrants 
in India, and their allies, to prevent what they beUeved to be their 
divinely-inspired wisdom being perverted by popular supersti- 
tion. . . . 

If the intellectual aristocracy of the Aryan tribes refrained 
from committing their thoughts of the Divinity to writing, and 
strictly observed the Mosaic law, "thou shalt not make to thyself 
any graven image, or likeness of anything which is in heaven or 
earth," it was certainly on account of the pecuhar conditions in 
which they found themselves placed, and because they stood on 
a much higher spiritual plane than the races by which they were 
surrounded, not from any lack of artistic genius f (p. 7). 

* London, John Murray, 1911. 

t A little further on, Mr. Havell tells us that "The decas themselves 
came down from heaven to take part in the sacrificial feast," and that 
"the correct recitation of appropriate hymns" transported the soul of 
the sacrificer to the abode of the gods. Then he proceeds, "When they 
saw the devas themselves sitting at the feast, and when men could trans- 
port themselves at will to the abode of the Shining Ones, what need had 
they of gods of stone or wood?" If this does not mean that Mr. Havell 
literally believes in these devas and their manifestations, what does it 
mean? If he is speaking of hallucinations, he must know that the prev- 
alence of hallucinations in other religions never prevented the produc- 
tion of images and pictures. 


Already in this Vedic period, centuries before Hellenic culture 
began to exert its influence upon Asia, India had conceived the 
■whole philosophy of her art. . . . The Vedic period, though it 
produced no immediate development in what we are accustomed 
to call the fine arts, must nevertheless be regarded as an age of 
wonderful artistic richness (p. 9)- 

These passages afford a good example of the intensity 
of faith with which Mr. Havell contrives to turn everything 
to the advantage of the Indian genius, even extracting from 
the absence of all ai-t at a given period a testimony to the 
wealth of its artistic endowment. I do not know what is 
the evidence for the abstention of the Vedic Aryans from 
making graven images or likenesses of anything in heaven 
or earth. One would suppose it probable that they might 
have exercised their graphic and plastic faculties upon per- 
ishable materials wliich had left no trace. At a later point 
(p. 18) Mr. Havell says, "Nearly all Indian sculpture 
previous to the Buddhist epoch was in wood or other im- 
permanent materials." Given two periods, A and B, if 
it is admitted that in period B sculpture existed, but has 
perished, one docs not see why it should be asserted that 
in period A no sculpture existed at all. Probabilities, 
however, must curtsey to evidence ; and it is possible tliat 
Mr. Havell may liave evidence (to me unknown) for the 
artistic barrenness of the Vedic period.* It is when he 
finds in that barrenness a proof of consummate genius that 
reason falters and protests. He ma,y be able to prove 
that the primitive Aryans would not if they could have made 

• From the mere non-existence of monuments or documents, nothing, 
surely, can be concUided. Tlie Aryans were ccrtiiinly surrounded by 
Dravidian and other tribes, who cannot possibly be supposed to have 
had any conscientious scruples about imafre-makinj!;. If, then, no sculp- 
ture at all has come down to >is from the Vedic period, we can only con- 
clude that the sculpture of the Dravidian peoples has perished — and 
why not that of the Aryans with it? 



images or pictures ; but how can he possiblj' arrive at the 
knowledge that "they could an' if they would" ? It is surely 
a masterpiece of paradox to assert that an age which pro- 
duced no art "must nevertheless be regarded as an age of 
wonderful artistic richness." 

The point is of no importance except as a symptom of 
Mr. Havell's mental habit. He cannot endure that there 
should be any period, from the dawn of liistory until the 
blight of South Kensington fell upon the land, when India 
did not possess a mar\-ellous genius for art. If, then, there 
was a period in which she produced no art, it can only have 
been because, for good and sufficient reasons, she deliber- 
ately suppressed her genius. She had "conceived the whole 
philosophy of her art," though as yet no art existed within 
her bounds, at any rate within the limits of Aryavarta. 
It is very true that India has an unrivalled gift of aprior- 
ism ; but one can as well imagine a blind man conceiving 
the whole philosophy of light as an artless people conceiving 
a valid philosophy of art. Does not Mr. Havell really 
mean that already' in the Vedic period the philosophy was 
more or less developed which was destined in after ages 
to influence Indian art.'' That is a rational proposition; 
but the value to art of a philosophy which knew not art is 
perhaps open to doubt. 

Not, however, for Mr. Havell. Here is another group 
of extracts in which he definitely discloses the basis of his 

Indian art was conceived when that wonderful intuition flashed 
upon the Indian mind that the soul of man is eternal and one with 
the Supreme Soul, the Lord and Cause of all things. . . . The 
creative force generated from those great philosophical concep- 
tions has not ceased to stimulate the whole art of Asia from that 
time to the present day (p. 6). 


It was about the beginning of the Christian era that the great 
universities of Northern India, in wliich the many schools of phi- 
losophy were combined with schools of painting and sculpture 
. . . provided Asiatic art once and for ever with a philosophic 
basis, and created the Indian divine ideal in art (p. 22). 

It was by Yoga also — by spiritual insight or intuition — rather 
than by observation and analysis of phj'sical form and facts, 
that the sculptor or the painter must attain to the highest power 
of artistic expression (p. 32). 

Art thus becomes less the pursuit of beauty than an attempt to 
realize the life which is without and beyond by the life which is 
within us — life in all its fullness and mysterj', which is, and 
was, and is to come (p. 40). 

The West, surfeited with the materialism of the Renaissance, 
is already slowly turning again to the East for spiritual instruc- 
tion (p. 41). 

Is it not evident that we have here to deal primarily, 
not with artistic, but with the theologico-philosopliical, 
or, more briefly? with theosophical, doctrine.'' And is it 
not clear that Mr. Havcll is setting forth to interpret art 
in the light of a principle whicli, carried to its logical issue, 
would destroy art, or reduce it to a purely conventional 
symbolism.'' One can accept a figure with three heads and 
eight arms as a type of omniscience, or omnipotence, or 
creative energy, or, in short, anything that may be agreed 
upon ; but why, in that case, seek to make out that it is 
beautiful in the ordinary, non-symbolic sense of the word? 
Why praise it in tenns of that very vinya, that illusion, 
which, we arc told, it is the business of art to dissipate and 

There arc, I submit, two fundamental flaws in Mr. 
Havell's doctrine. In the first place, it assumes the positive, 
objective, one might almost say the historic truth of certain 
metapliysical tenets which arc, in tlic nature of things, 



incapable of verification, and which, at best, belong to a 
region inaccessible to art, in any reasonable sense of the 
word. In the second place, it proceeds on principles which 
ought, if consistently applied, to place any savage Mumbo- 
Jumbo on a level with, or above, the so-caUed Zeus of 
Phidias; since the Zeus is an attempt to subject the idea 
of godhead to the bonds of material illusion, while the 
Mumbo-Jumbo rises superior to illusion, and expresses in 
its quiddity, so to speak, the savage's conception of the 
power behind the veil. Of course Mr. Havell does not begin 
to apply his principles consistently. He seizes with avidity 
on any trace of naturalistic grace, beauty, realism, that he 
can find in Indian art. It is only when these qualities are 
hopelessly undiscoverable that he falls back on spiritual 
significance, on contempt for the outward shows of things, 
in order to justify monstrosity, mannerism and grotesque 

To illustrate what I mean by the acceptance of meta- 
physical concepts as though they were verified truths, I 
cannot do better than quote a quotation made by Mr. 
Havell, with unquestioning approval, from an essay by his 
kindred spirit. Dr. A. K. Coomaraswamy. It runs thus : 

What, after all, is the secret of Indian greatness? . . . The 
secret of the infinite superiority of intuition, the method of direct 
perception, over intellect . . . [Intuition] came to Sir Isaac 
Newton when he saw the apple fall and there flashed across his 
brain the law of gravity. It came to Buddha as he sat through 
the silent nights in meditation, and hour by hour all things 
became apparent to him. 

Just consider the difference between the two phenomena 
so airily bracketed together! We need not inquire whether 
the anecdote of the apple be authentic or not. No doubt 
there did come to Newton, whether in an orchard or else- 


where, a flash of insight in which he divined the universality 
of a law towards which he, and other phj'sicists for centuries 
before him, had been feeling their way by dint of patient 
experiment, measurement, calculation, reflection. The pre- 
cise magnitude of the advance made in that moment of 
insiglit, it must be left to specialists to estimate. Probably, 
if we could follow all the mental processes that led up to it, 
we should find tliat the leap was not a very great one. 
But supposing it to be — as it may have been — the greatest 
single achievement recorded of any human mind, can we 
possibly call it an eff^ort of "intuition" as distinguished from 
"intellect".'' No, surely. It was the last step in a long 
intellectual process; and (mark this) it consisted in the 
formulation of a hypothesis to be experimentally verified 
or disproved. Verified it has been, a million-fold, and it is 
continually being verified in mechanical calculation and 
astronomical prediction. Those of us who are neither 
physicists nor astronomers have, indeed, to take it on trust; 
but to suppose it untrue is to suppose ourselves the victims 
of an utterly incredible conspiracy' of fraud. Now compare 
this daily and hourly verified law with the "intuitions," 
not only of the Buddha, but of all the Indian sages put 
together. What characteristic have they in common.'' In 
place of generalization based on a patient study of phenom- 
ena, we have a logical exercise resulting in a denial of the 
reality of phenomena, and then a fantastication at large 
as to the noumena conjectured to lie behind tlie world of 
illusion. It may be mentioned in passing that the fantasies 
of individual sages constantly contradict one another. For 
instance, the Buddha, cited by Dr. Coomaraswamy, would 
not have accepted the "wonderful intuition" which Mr. 
Havell regards as the root principle of Indian art, "that 
the soul of man is eternal and one with the Supreme Soul, 
the Lord and Cause of all things." But the contradictions 


India and the future 

are of minor moment. The one plain fact is that these 
Indian speculations are in the nature of things unverifiable, 
and would remain so even if the^' could be reduced to mutual 
consistency or unanimity. I am not den3'ing the subtlety 
or the profundity of Indian metaphysics. I am not denying 
the historical importance of Indian thought. It was in- 
evitable that the constitution of mind should be investigated 
as well as the constitution of matter; and I am perfectly 
read}' to admit that matter is only "a name for the unknown 
and hypothetical cause of states of our own consciousness." 
Granted certain definitions, there is no doubt that the uni- 
verse must be admitted to be illusion — maya. So far we 
can all go along with Mr. Havell. It is when he assumes 
the positive, scientific validity of this or that attempt to 
penetrate the illusion and see behind the veil — when he places 
such attempts on an equal footing with a verified hypothesis 
like the law of gravitation — then it is that I, for my part, 
must regretfully part company with him. Such speculations 
may be extremely ingenious. They may even be incontro- 
vertible conclusions from the stated premises. But they are 
all efforts to know the unknowable, and tliink about the un- 
thinkable. To the soul that finds solace in them, who shall 
grudge it.? But when such a speculation is set up as a — or 
rather the — ^basic principle of art, one cannot but cry out. 
Nor is there anything in Mr. Havell's critical applications 
of this principle that tends to reconcile one to it. On the 
contrary, his verj* able treatises merely confirm one in the 
belief that the domain of art is precisely the phenomenal 
world, and that, if it can ever get at noumena at all, it will 
not be by distorting and denaturalizing phenomena. Nature 
may be (or, if you prefer it, must be) an illusion; but it is 
an illusion kept up with such admirable consistency that 
we are all constrained to act as if it were real. In what else 


does sanity consist? And ought not sanity to be the basis 
of art as well as of life? 

Before attempting a rational estimate of Indian art, as 
an index to the soul of the people, I thought it well to show- 
clearly the anti-rational basis of the unqualified and un- 
measured eulogies of the Indian genius which have lately 
been loud in the land. This done, I go on to state my 
personal impressions for what they are worth. They may 
possibly be coloured by the chance that I entered India 
from the south, and that Hindu art first confronted me in 
some of its most exaggerated forms, at Madura, Trichino- 
poly and Tan j ore. But I have done my best to supplement 
my own observations by careful study of the lavishly illus- 
trated works of Mr. Havell, Dr. Coomaraswamy, Mr. 
Vincent Smith and others ; and I can at all events say that 
I approached the whole subject without any prejudice. 

On a broad general survey, and putting aside for the 
moment all question of individual exceptions, I do not see 
how it is possible to argue away the palpable and glaring 
fact that Hindu (as distinct from Muhammadan) art habit- 
ually tends to extravagance and excess. It is the art of a 
swarming, pullulating people in a country where Nature 
itself scorns the very idea of moderation. Remember — 
it is certainly not irrelevant — that India is the most tropical 
country that ever possessed any art of importance. China 
is another region of multitudinous humanity, but only a 
small portion of China falls within the torrid zone; whereas 
half of India, and that not the hotter half, lies south of the 
tropic. India, then, is literally a hotbed of imagination, 
which fosters all sorts of over-luxuriant and monstrous 
growths. The fact that her philosophy has led her, not to- 
wards the study of Nature, but away from it, has helped her, 
no doubt, to throw off all salutary checks upon her fantasy; 



but her philosophy (I suggest) is not so much the cause of 
her art as a concurrent effect of climatic influences. Only 
in a hot country is it possible for a human being to spend 
months, years, or even a Hfe-time, in sitting cross-legged 
and contemplating his own navel. Only in a hot country 
could the opinion arise that tliis was the best way of ascer- 
taining the truth as to the nature and constitution of the 
universe. Whatever may be the analogies between Buddha 
under the bo-tree and Newton under the apple-tree, it is 
quite certain that Newton did not "sit through the silent 
nights" under the apple-tree, else he would have taken his 
discovery with him to an untimely grave. Indian yoga and 
Indian art are alike products of the Indian climate, and 
though the one has no doubt influenced the other, it cannot 
be regarded as its inspiring principle. Taken in the mass, 
Indian art does not seek to express metaphysical intuitions, 
but is clearly of a piece with the highly material imaginings 
of popular religion and popular poetrj-. 

One need go no farther than the main staircase of the 
British Museum in order to study a characteristic and in 
some ways admirable example of Indian art. The sculp- 
tures from the Buddhist stupa at Amaravati, Southern 
India, dating from about A.D. 200, were at one time 
reckoned "the culmination of the art of sculpture in India" 
(Fergusson) and still hold a high place in the esteem of the 
critics. Mr. Havell tells us truly that they ofi'er "delightful 
studies of animal life, combined with extremely beautiful 
conventionahzed ornament," and Mr. Vincent Smith, though 
he regards some of the work as "skilled craftsmanship 
rather than fine art," is of opinion that the sculptures as a 
whole "must have formed, when perfect, one of the most 
splendid exhibitions of artistic skill known in the history 
of the world." This is high praise, and I am not concerned 
to discount it. I will even own it possible to pick out 


scenes which more or less justify Mr. Havell's assertion 
that "the most varied and difficult movements of the human 
figure are drawn and modelled with great freedom and skill." 
It is precisely because of the merits of these sculptures, and 
because, being of Buddhist origin, they contain none of the 
monstrosities characteristic of Hindu art, that I direct the 
reader's attention to them. 

Can any unprejudiced observer deny that even these 
exceptionally favourable specimens of Indian workmanship 
are marred by the gravest defects of conventionality in 
form, of overcrowding in composition, of excess in orna- 
ment? In a few seated female figures, viewed from beliind, 
there is a certain natural grace, but most of the women who 
swarm all over the reliefs are the product of a morbid 
convention which gives them enormous breasts, wasp waists, 
and atrophied legs,* and places them in attitudes suggestive 
of a violent dislocation of the hipjoint. Whether such 
figures were actually cultivated at the period, I do not know ; 
but even if this could be proved, the sculptures could only 
be regarded as conventional exaggerations of an unliealthy 
fashion. As to composition, the word is really out of place 
in this context. A certain ingenuity is shown in crowding 
the utmost possible number of figures into a given space ; but 
of order, proportion, gradation, guidance and relief for the 
eye, it is hard to find a trace. In this respect, the sculptures 
would rank in Europe as interesting efforts of a primitive 
school, struggling towards accomplislmient, but only at the 
beginning of the struggle. As to excess in ornament, it may 
be asked how that can be affirmed when we possess only 
disjointed fragments of the whole work and cannot replace 

* "The exaggerated thinness of the legs," says Mr. Havell, "was prob- 
ably less marked when the sculptures had their finishing coat, of fine 
plaster;" but any even coating of plaster would leave unaffected Uie 
truly hideous disproportion of legs and thiglis. 



them in position. It happens, however, that among the 
remains there are several slabs representing the great stupa 
itself, and from these we can see that it was simply crawling 
with ornament — there is no other word for it. Perhaps it 
maj' be said that we have no right to transfer to the East 
the Western ideal of temperance in decoration ; but Indian 
profusion did not, it would seem, arise from any aesthetic 
principle, but from the religious notion that the more labour 
was expended on a pious work, the more merit was 
acquired.* Artistic excellence, may, indeed, be acliieved in 
work inspired by this idea; but an aesthetic defect cannot be 
converted into an {esthetic merit by the fact of its being so 

In order to estimate the Amaravati sculptures at their 
true value, we need only turn over a few pages of Mr. 
Havell's Indian Sculpture and Painting, and examine his 
admirable photographs of portions of the two miles of 
Buddhist reliefs on the vast pyramidal stupa at Boro- 
Budur in Java. This building, which dates from about 
the ninth century of our era, is styled by Mr. Havell "the 
Parthenon of Asia," and is certainly not unworthy of the 
name. The odd thing is that he should apparently fail 
to realize the gulf that separates Boro-Budur not only from 
Amaravati, but from Ellora, Elephanta, Vijayanagar, and 
all the other famous sculpture-sites of continental India. 
Judging entirely from photographs, one is tempted to place 
the Boro-Budur sculptures among the loveliest things in the 
world. They are crowded, j-et not overcrowded, with figures 
of exquisite grace, in attitudes of great expressiveness, yet 
devoid of violence. They are perfect examples of the art 
of composition as applied to long relief. I concur with 
every word that Mr. Havell says in praise of them ; it is 

• For the same reason, according to Mr. Havell, sculpture was more 
cultivated than painting. Ideals of Indian Art, p. 133. 


only when he places them without hesitation or reservation 
to the credit of India, that I protest. Their themes are cer- 
tainly Indian — scenes from the life of Buddha, and from 
Buddhist romances and jatakas or birth-stories. Some part 
of their technical method is, no doubt, Indian as well. But 
their physical types are quite un-Indian, and their suave and 
gracious humanity has nothing Indian about it — is, indeed, 
particularly devoid of those very qualities which Mr. Havell 
declares to be the supreme glory of Indian art. Certainly, 
these Javanese sculptors — for in the absence of evidence 
to the contrary, we may assume them to have been Javanese 
— sought no inspiration in yoga, and dreamt not of dis- 
sipating vuiya in order to disclose the realities which eye 
hath not seen and ear hath not heard. They were perfectly 
satisfied with what the eye sees in the phenomenal world. 
They loved it, studied it, and reproduced it with a rare 
combination of dramatic instinct and decorative tact. 
Devout they may have been : indeed, there is no reason to 
doubt it: but they were artists first and devotees second. 
"Nobody with the least experience," says Mr. Vincent Smith, 
"could mistake a Javanese relief for one executed in India. 
But when we compare the Boro-Budur sculptures with the 
seventh-century relief at Mamallapuram, or the sixth- 
century friezes at Badami, the difference almost amounts to 
that between fine art and barbarism." 

Before we leave the subject of Buddliist art, it may be 
well to say a few words as to the numerous figures of the 
Buddha himself for which the Orientalizers are full of 
admiration. Most people are familiar with the type — a 
short, round, smooth face, with eyelids drooped, eyes either 
closed or reduced to narrow slits, full lips, huge ears, head 
covered with conventional snail-shell curls, broad, smooth 
shoulders and chest, narrow waist, legs crossed in the tradi- 
tional attitude of the squatting yogi, and hands disposetl 



in one or another posture of conventional symbolism. Of 
the philosophy of this fignire,* i\Ir. Havell gives the following 
accountf : — 

When the Indian artist models a representation of the Deity 
■with an attenuated waist and abdomen, and suppresses all the 
smaller anatomical details, so as to obtain an extreme simplicity 
of contour, the European draws a mental comparison with the 
ideas of Phidias and Michelangelo and declares that the Indian 
is sadly ignorant of anatomy and incapable of imitating the 
higher forms of Nature. But the Indian artist, in the best period- 
of Indian sculpture and painting, was no more ignorant of anat- 
omy than Phidias or Praxiteles. He would create a higher and 
more subtle type than a Grecian athlete or a Roman senator, and 
suggest that spiritual beauty which, according to his philosophy, 
can only be reached by the surrender of worldly attachments 
and the suppression of worldly desires. . . . 

Indian artists purposely suppressed the details of the physical 
body with the intention of suggesting the inner Self purified and 
exalted by communion with the Universal Soul. . . . 

Amongst the thirty-two principal lahshanas, or marks of divin- 
ity, attributed to the person of Buddha^such as short, curly 
hair, long arms, a mark of noble birth, and golden-coloured skin — 
there is a very significant one: "the upper part of the body (i.e., 
the trunk) is like that of a lion." Let us try to realize the pre- 
cise meaning of this symbohsm. The most prominent character- 
istics of the body of the Indian lion [are] the broad deep shoul- 
ders and the narrow contracted abdomen. . . . Now Buddha, as 
we know, attained to his Buddahood at the close of a long fast, 
and, according to the canons of European art, he should have been 
represented in a state of extreme emaciation. The Gandharan 
sculptors I did, indeed, occasionally represent Buddha thus. But 

* With slight modifications, the figure serves not only for the Buddha, 
but for Bodhisattvas, or saints on the verge of Buddahood, for Jain 
Tirthankaras, and often for Hindu gods. 

j Indian Setilpiure and Painting, pp. 25, 36, 39. 

% Contaminated, be it observed, by Hellenic influences 1 



the Indian sculptors never descended to such vulgarity. . . . 
They gave him a new, spiritualized body — broad-shouldered, 
deep-chested, golden-coloured, smooth-skinned, supple and lithe 
as a young lion. 

There is no doubt that the broad shoulders and slim waist 
of the typical Indian heroic figure are due to the fact that 
the ideal of strength was based on the proportions of the lion 
or tlie tiger. Such an ideal is very naturally formed by a 
people in a state of semi-savagery, and adherence to it 
might not unfairly be interpreted as showing that the semi- 
savage state was not far outgrown. At all events, one does 
not see how it can be alleged as a proof of superiority to, 
or even equality with, races whose ideal of heroic manhood 
is based, not on theriolatry, but on a generalization from the 
highest human types. Is a people to be applauded for going 
to the jungle for its ideals, instead of seeking them in the 
gymnasium and the council-hall? 

As for the attribution to Buddha of "a new spiritualized 
body . . . supple and lithe as a young lion," we need 
scarcely inquire into the appropriateness of the sj'mbolism, 
for it is more than doubtful whether the effect which Mr. 
Havell declares to be aimed at is actually attained. Has 
anyone, looking without preconceived theory at the cross- 
legged Buddha figures, ever dreamt of seeing in them the 
suppleness and litheness of the young lion.'' Is there any 
plausible reason for crediting the sculptors with this inten- 
tion.'' Is it not clear that the idea they sought to express 
was that of contemplative immobility, and that nothing was 
further from their minds than suppleness and litheness.'' 
They adhered to the accepted type of manhood because they 
had no particular reason for adopting any other; but they 
did not dream of expressing qualities superfluous, and even 
incongmous, in the yogi. As for the avoidance of emacia- 



tion, what reason is there to suppose that they intended to 
represent tlic Buddha at the moment of emerging from his 
fast and attaining enlightenment? Asceticism was no part 
of his ideal; it was a phase of spiritual experience which he 
is represented as having lived through and put behind him. 
Assuming his story to be historical, we cannot doubt that, 
after his long ordeal was over, he recovered his normal 
physical condition ; and it is in that condition, as conceived 
under the accepted canons of their craft, that the sculptors, 
quite naturally, chose to represent him. To seek a deep 
spiritual meaning in their abstention from exhibiting him as 
a living skeleton is to "chercher midi a quatorze heures." 
It is, of course, impossible to disprove Mr. Havell's 
assertion that the artists who so carefully concealed their 
knowledge of anatomy were, in fact, as skilled in it as 
Phidias and Praxiteles. All that can be said is that he 
does not produce his evidence. And one thing is surely 
undeniable: namely, that when once a type was established 
in which all anatomical detail was suppressed, and a single 
hieratic pose was maintained with inconsiderable variations, 
it became very easy to multiply that type indefinitely, with 
comparatively little technical skill, and no spark of spiritual 
inspiration, or even understanding. This thought con- 
stantly occurs to us, not with reference to the Buddha alone, 
in reading Mr. Havell's impassioned eulogies of Indian art: 
even supposing he is right in maintaining that such-and-such 
types express such-and-such metaphysical and spiritual 
ideas, can we doubt that many of the works he so ardently 
admires are mere soulless reproductions, the work of clever 
craftsmen, wholly innocent of any desire to get behind the 
phenomenal world and "realize the life which is without and 
beyond".' He reproduces with unwearying praise about a 
score of divine figures (Buddhist and Hindu) from Thibet, 
Nepaul, Ceylon, Java, and India proper, of dates extending 


over something like a thousand years: can he mean that all 
these carvers and hammerers, deliberately and with conscious 
artistic-philosophic purpose, suppressed a knowledge of 
anatomy equal to that of Phidias? 

Finally, and coming back to the Buddha-figures in par- 
ticular, what are we to say of the marvellous spirituality 
of expression often attributed to them? It is to me, I 
own, far from apparent. The drooped eyelids and the 
immobile pose do, indeed, express the idea of contempla- 
tion; but I am at a loss to find anything spiritual in the 
smooth, insipid faces. In some of the Gandharan Buddlias 
(found in the North-West Frontier Province) there is a 
certain nobility of expression ; but to these Hellenistic prod- 
ucts Mr. Havell will have nothing to say. My own prefer- 
ence for them will, doubtless, be set down to mere European 
prejudice; and I frankly confess that I see more spirituality 
in (for example) the ideal head of Homer, seamed by suffer- 
ing and furrowed by thought, than in the whole pantheon 
of Buddliist-Hindu sculpture. But my preference is not 
founded on any general prejudice in favour of the Western 
as compared with the Eastern type. India to-day abounds 
in living men whose noble spirituality of aspect puts all the 
carven gods to shame. Is there a single Buddha, from 
Peshawar to Kamakura, that can compare in spirituality 
with Rabindranath Tagore? * 

* I am told that in tliis parajtraph I mistake tlic incaniiifr of the 
"spirituality" attributed to the Buddha figures. We are not, it wouhi 
seem, to look for any record or siigfjestion of materiality mortified and 
spiritual experience dilijiently ensued and attained. The spirituality as- 
serted resides rather in the artist than in liis work. A figure is spiritual 
which seems to express sincere devotion in lt.s maker, and to lia%-e been 
created in an atmosphere of faitli. Perhaps so; but is it not the case tliat 
sincere devotion, working in an atmosphere of faith, has often produced 
execrable and most unspiritual art? Moreover, qualities are often claimed 
for Indian sculpture which must reside in the object, and not in any in- 



Hindu, as distinct from Buddliist, sculpture carries to 
excess all the faults which we have noted in the Amaravati 
reliefs, and adds to them the undesirable characteristic of 
constantly dealing in grotesque monstrosities. The North, 
indeed, is not so extravagant as the South in its abuse of 
the human fonn. No doubt the Muhammadans have de- 
stroyed more images in the regions they have more com- 
pletely mastered. No doubt, too, their influence has tended 
to beget a certain artistic moderation, and we may, if we 
please, assume that there is more innate good taste in 
Aryavarta than in the Dravidian peninsula. But, speaking 
generally, the impression one carries away from the temples 
of India is one of oppressive confusion of ornament (often 
beautiful in itself) and insensate reduplication of the (more 
or less) human figure, almost alwa^-s in attitudes of violent 
contortion. I have already spoken of the thousands upon 
thousands of figures crowded upon the gopuras, or gate- 
towers, and plastered over the walls, of the mighty temples 
of the South. I do not think I am exaggerating when I say 
that not one of these myriad figures is in an unconstrained 
attitude ; and most of them are twisted into poses that would 
baffle a Russian ballet-dancer. The whole effect is that of a 
demon army, battalion on battaUon, suddenly petrified in the 
midst of a furious war-dance. Within the temples, it is just 
the same — colossal, contorted forms, looming menacingly 
through the gloom — everywhere a riot of violent, often 
sensual, imagery, nowhere one touch of nature or one point 
of rest. Yes, there is one: the pot-bellied, elephant-headed 
Ganesh is usually quite placidly enthroned. Monster though 

ference to be drawn as to the artist's soul-state. To cite one example 
among hundreds, Mr. Havell says of a stone figure of the Buddhist God- 
dess of Wisdom: "Her face has that ineffable expression of heavenly 
grace which Giovanni BeUini, above all other Italian masters, gave to his 
Madonnas." Indian Sculpture and Painting, p. 51. 


he be, this Silenus or Falstaff of Hinduism is far less in- 
human than the major gods. 

What, now, is Mr. Havcll's account of all this.' He tells 
us, in the first place, that the Indians of old had "a deep- 
rooted objection to anthropomorphic representations of 
the Divine," and that "the substitution of a plain stone 
emblem for a statue as the principal object of worsliip 
for most of the followers of Siva in the present day is 
probably an instance of this feeling." Then he argues in a 
footnote that the "plain stone emblem" was "not originally 
phallic" — a point which seems rather unimportant, since 
it is now admittedly understood as phallic, and has been 
from time immemorial. Be this as it may, Mr. Havell has 
to admit that Hinduism, as a whole, has rather successfully 
got over its objection to anthropomorphic representations 
of the Divine, though he still maintains that the "West 
is more idolatrous than the East," inasmuch as it "often 
regards the realization of form as the end of art." * The 
Indian artist, on the other hand, "attempted to differentiate 
the spii'itual type from the human by endowing the former 
with superhuman attributes, quite regardless of physi- 
ological probabilities or possibilities. Indian art has never 
produced a Phidias or Praxiteles, not because an Olympian 
Zeus or an Aphrodite of Cnidus was beyond its intellectual 
grasp, but because it deliberately chose an imaginative 
rather than an intellectual ideal. ... A figure with three 
heads and four, six or eight arms seems to a European a 
barbaric conception, though it is not less (sic) physiologic- 
ally impossible than the wings growing from the human 
scapula in European representations of angels. . . . All 
art is suggestion and convention, and if Indian artists, by 
their conventions, can suggest divine attributes to Indian 

"Ideals of Indian Art, p. 171, 



people with Indian culture, they have fulfilled the purpose 
of their art."* 

Again one can only reply that this process of reasoning 
would place any African or Polynesian Mumbo-Jumbo on a 
level with the Apollo of Phidias or the Moses of Michel- 
angelo. It is true, of course, that many-headed, many- 
armed gods are not more impossible than angels. Mr. 
Havell might even have argued that they are less im- 
possible: for we do hear of Two-headed Nightingales and 
Siamese Twins, and still more abhorrent abortions are 
known to physiologists ; whereas I am not aware that any 
child has yet been born with even the rudiments of wings. 
But there is something graceful and ethereal in the concep- 
tion of a being, otherwise human, but endowed with the 
glorious privilege of flight. Men have always, and very 
naturally, sighed for the wings of a dove, and envied the 
circling sea-gull and the soaring hawk. We constantly fly 
in our dreams, and we feel the omission of Nature to add 
pinions to our outfit a very regrettable oversight, which we 
are now doing our best to remedy. There is nothing gro- 
tesque or degrading in man's instinctive desire to assert his 
kinship with his wonderful cousins, the birds. But no one 
ever desired three or four heads ; and six or eight arms 
would assert our kinship, not with the bird, but with the 
octopus. The natural, unsophisticated mind of the child 
loves the idea of flA'ing, and delights in the thought of 
angels, fairies and beneficent genies ; from many-headed, 
many-armed ogres, it shrinks in dread, and it sympathizes 
with the heroic giant-killers who go forth to slay them. Let 
it not be said that these are conventions of the European 
nursery. The monster gods of India are originally ogres, 
just as much as Giant Blunderbore or Giant Cormoran. 

* Indian Sculpture and Painting, pp. 56-60. 


They are the figures in which cowering savages embodied 
their conception of the destructive powers of Nature. They 
have no doubt been adopted into an originally higher 
religion, and they have to a certain extent l>een used as 
symbols of more or less advanced conceptions of deity. 
But their primitive associations cling to them, and they 
are almost always employed to typify the destructive and 
terrible aspect of supernatural power. It is Siva the 
Destroyer, it is the grisly goddess Durga or Kali, who is 
characteristically represented with six arms and a necklace 
of skulls, in a ravening attitude like that of a barn-storming 
player of the good old days, tearing a passion to tatters.* 
Sophisticate them as you please, the monster-gods of India 
are sui-vivals from a low stage of spiritual development, 
and it is ridiculous to suggest that their infinite redupli- 
cation throughout the country is "an attempt to realize the 
life which is without and beyond by the life which is within 

"It was inevitable," JMr. Havell admits, "that Hinduism, 
comprising as it docs so many diverse states of civilization 
and of intellectual development, should embrace many artis- 
tic monstrosities, the wild imaginings of primitive races, and 
the crude vulgarities of the uncultured. But it will never 
be difficult to distinguish the barbaric elements of an un- 
developed state of culture from tlie iughcr ideals of Indian 
jesthetic philosophy." And again : "It need hardl}- be stated 

• The attitudes of gods and heroes in Indian sculpture constantly 
remind one of the "penny plain, twopence coloured" prints of posturing 
actors which were so ])opular in England a hundred years ago. This 
resemblance suggests the possibility that Indian sculptors may have 
drawn their inspiration from performers in early miracle-plays. Horrwitz 
(The Indian Thuttrr, p. ■-';!) tells us that the oldest Indian dramas, or 
rather colloquies (snnradas), were, in fact, mysteries in which "either 
Krishna or Siva acted or danced the principal part." The attitudes so 
familiar in sculpture may very well have been those cultivated by a school 
of miracle-players, half dancers, half acrobats. 



that the Indian process of artistic thought has often pro- 
duced many degenerate and revolting types, just as the 
European process has produced a vast amount of inane and 
intolerable rubbish." Intentionally or not, Mr. HaveU here 
points to a distinction which I entirely accept. Much of 
the art of Europe is "inane and intolerable rubbish," but 
it is not "degenerate and revolting" — at any rate, not in 
anything like the same degree as an immense amount of 
Indian art. I am far from denying the technical merit of 
a great deal of Hindu sculpture. The treatment of animals, 
whether on a great scale or as motives in decoration, is often 
superb. There is no temptation to distort and denaturalize 
the elephant, the bull and the antelope. Such decorative 
work as that in the Hoysalesvara Temple at Halebid is 
entirely admirable in quality, if only it were more moderate 
in quantity. Everywhere, indeed, there is an astounding 
wealth of beautiful decoration, such as could be produced 
only by exuberant fancy in a country where time had no 
existence. The Jain Temples of Mount Abu, for example, 
are decorated with a profusion absolutely incredible to 
anyone who has not seen them. Sometimes, too, there is 
extraordinary power and subtlety in the treatment even of 
monstrosities. The famous statuette of the dancing "Siva 
as Natesa," * for instance, is a really wonderful piece of 
work, especially remarkable for the skill with which the arms 
are so disposed that one scarcely notices their superabun- 
dance. All over the country one may find, here and there, 
admirable pieces of work, both early and late, in which 
naturalism wins a momentary victory over extravagant and 
unwholesome convention. But when Mr. Havell declares 
that it is "never difficult to distinguish the barbaric ele- 
ments of an undeveloped state of culture from the higher 

* This is a frequently repeated motive. The best example known to 
me is that in the Madras Museum, reproduced by Mr. HaveU, 


ideals of Indian a-sthetic philosophy," he seems to me to be 
asserting what his own works disprove. As soon as a piece 
of sculpture, however monstrous, however barbaric, has a 
certain technical quality, Mr. Havell declares it to be in- 
spired by the higher ideals of Indian philosophy, and 
imagines into it all sorts of spiritual significance. Perhaps 
his greatest achievement in this way is his rhapsody over an 
alto-rilievo of "Durga slaying Mahisha" now in the Leyden 
Museum. To the unilluminate eye, it seems like a thick-set, 
thick-lipped woman with six arms, straddling ungracefully 
from head to tail of a recumbent and apparently sleeping 
bull, and resting one of her half-dozen hands on the curly 
head of an enormously fat boy. To Mr. Havell,* on the 
contrary, it appears that in this work "Hindu sculpture 
has produced a masterpiece. . . . Judged by any standard 
it is a wonderful work of art, grandly composed, splendidly 
thorough in technique, expressing with extraordinar}' power 
and concentrated passion the wrath and might of the 
Supreme Beneficence roused to warfare with the Spirit of 
Evil. The student will find in this phase of Indian imagina- 
tive art an intensity of feeling — a wonderful suggestion of 
elemental passion transcending all the feeble emotions of 
humanity — a revelation of the powers of the Unseen, which 
notliing in European art has ever approached, unless it be 
in the creations of Michelangelo or in the music of Wagner." 
It says much for the intensity of Mr. Havell's conviction 
that he should actually accompany this hymn of praise 
with a photograph of the masterpiece which called it forth. 

Hindu Epic and Dkama. 

Never, perhaps, have two forms of art more completely 
reflected and interpreted each other than Hindu sculpture 

* Indian Sculpture and PaiiUiiig, p. 6-2. 


India and the FUTURt: 

and the Hindu epics. In saying so I am not thinking of 
the actual scenes from the two great poems, especially from 
the Ramayana, wliich not infrequently occur in reliefs and 
decorations. If these were entirely absent, it would remain 
none the less true that in reading the epics we seem to see 
the overstrained, over-elaborated, over-crowded sculptures, 
and in viewing the sculptures we seem to hear the vast, 
labyrinthine, multitudinous epics. 

The author of Siri Ram, who has evidently studied Indian 
character at close quarters, says: "There is a popular 
fallacy that the Indian is imaginative. Nothing is further 
from the truth. . . . Imagination means much the same to 
him as multiplication. It is a kind of magnifying-glass 
through which he sees a swollen universe. The imaginative 
man is the man who thinks in crores and hecatombs and 
holocausts, in Kalpas of time and vast compartments of 
space. The light play of fancy does not touch him." This 
is, I conceive, a far too sweeping statement, probably 
founded on observation of a mediocre type of Indian mind. 
It would be easy to deny imagination to the European, if 
one judged (say) by the average British schoolboy. But 
it is probably true— and this is perhaps what the writer 
really means — that the Indian imagination suffers from 
habitual and ancestral over-fatigue. The poet and the 
artist have, from of old, striven to live "au-dela des forces 
humaines." In a country where everything is exaggerated 
— the height of the mountains, the width of the plains, the 
volume of the rivers, rainfall and drought, fertility and 
aridity, the luxuriance of the jungle, the size and strength 
of animals, the fecundity and venomousness of reptiles and 
insects, the splendour of the stars at night, and above all 
the fierce prepotency of the sun by day — in such a country 
it was perhaps inevitable that man should overstrain his 
powers in the attempt to body forth his conceptions of 


might, majesty and multitude. At all events, that is what 
has happened. In the Indian epics, the poets are always 
trying to outdo themselves and each other in their search 
for the marvellous, whether in virtue, prowess, gorgeous- 
ness, wickedness, demoniacal fury, or mere numerical 
extravagance. They are constantly creating records in 
exaggeration, wiiicli are as constantly broken. What 
wonder that a people habituated from childhood to these 
orgies of unbridled fancy should suffer from a certain 
slackening of imaginative fibre, an insensitiveness to normal 
and wholesome stimulation.'' It is that insensitiveness whicli 
seems to me to account for all that is worst in Indian art. 
It is that insensitiveness which will have to be corrected 
before India can hope to make the best of her intellectual 
gifts in a world in which, though all may be illusory, the 
God-made illusion of Nature must in the end prevail over 
the man-made illusions of mythology and metaphysics. 

The Indian epics and Indian sculpture are, of course, 
co-ordinate products of the Indian mind, and must not be 
placed in any direct relation of cause and effect. But as the 
matter of the epics, at any rate (if not their extant form), is 
much older than most of the sculpture that has come down 
to us, we can fairly say that art has been influenced by 
literature rather than literature by art. And to this day, 
by all accounts, the epics continue to re-act potently on the 
Indian mind, and to keep it stagnant in the phase of de- 
velopment to which they themselves belong. It is hard to sec 
how this can be looked upon otherwise than as a grave 
misfortune. Even if we could assume that the Greek and 
the Indian epics stood fairly on a level in point of intel- 
lectual and ethical value, would it be to the advantage of 
Europe if the Iliad and the Odyssey were held to be sacred 
revelations, were the exclusive, or at any rate bj' far the 
most desirable, mental and moral sustenance of the great 



majority of the people, and were regarded with a biblio- 
latrous reverence, more extravagant than any that has ever 
been paid to the Hebrew Bible.* Would the European 
character be strengthened and ennobled if it were currently 
believed that salvation was to be attained by the mechanical 
repetition of the name of (say) Achilles or Ulysses? And 
the assumption of equality on which this comparison pro- 
ceeds is really a preposterous one. The Greek epics would 
make ten times better Bibles than the huge accumulations 
of sacerdotalized folk-lore from which the Indian populace 
derive their notions of the heroic and the divine. "Al- 
though priests are occasionally mentioned in the Iliad and 
the Odyssey," says Sir M. Monier-Williams, "there is wholly 
wanting in the Homeric poems any recognition of a regular 
hierarchy or the necessity for a mediatorial caste of sacri- 
fices. This, which may be called the sacerdotal element 
of the Indian epics, is more or less woven into their very 
tissue. Priestcraft has been at work in these poems almost 
as much as the imagination of the poet; and Brahminism, 
claiming a monopoly of all knowledge, human and divine, 
has appropriated tliis, as it has every other department of 
literature, and warped it to its own purposes. Its policy 
being to check the development of intellect, and keep the 
inferior castes in perpetual childhood, it encouraged an 
appetite for exaggeration more monstrous and absurd than 
would be tolerated in the most extravagant European 
fairy-tale." In all religions there is too much of the fairy- 
tale element, but it surely cannot be to the advantage of a 
country that its popular religion and literature should 
consist of extravagant fairy-tales and little else. 

* "Some idea of the veneration in which it (the Ramayana) is held 
may be formed from the verses at the end of the introductory chapter, 
which declare that 'he who reads and repeats this holy life-giving 
Ramayana is liberated from all his sins and exalted with all his posterity 
to the highest heaven.' " Monier-'W^illiams, Indian Epic Poetry, p. 16. 


The beauties of diction, of description, of episodic narra- 
tive, in the Indian epics are acknowledged by good judges 
to be very great. I have no means of knowing how far 
the literary qualities of the original Sanskrit, or even of the 
Hindi transcript of the Ramayana by Tulsi Das, are re- 
produced in the versions of the village reciters, to whom the 
mass of the Indian people owes its knowledge of the epic 
literature. But, however skilful, however tasteful, may be 
their renderings, we cannot doubt that it is upon the story 
— the spectacular, the sensational, the passionate scenes 
and incidents — that the popular mind most eagerly fastens. 
Can we, then, regard these scenes and incidents as whole- 
some mental sustenance for a people which has to live and 
hold its own in the world of to-day and to-morrow? Let 
us look a little into this question. 

What are the ideals, or rather, the general ideas, which 
disengage themselves from these poems.'' First, as Sir M. 
Monier-Williams points out, the peculiar sanctity and the 
insatiable appetite of the Bralmiin caste is dwelt on at every 
turn. Such passages as these are of ludicrously frequent 
recurrence : 

Kripa guarded wealth and treasure, gold and gems of untold price, 
And with presents unto Brahmins sanctified the sacrifice. 

Hungry men were fed and feasted with an ample feast of rice, 
Costly gifts to holy Brahmins graced the noble sacrifice. 

Ida, ajya, homa offerings pleased the "Shining Ones" on high, 
Brahmins, pleased with costly presents, with their blessings filled 
the sky. 

"Not so" answered him the princess, "Other boon I may not seek, 
Thou art bounteous, and a woman should be modest, wise and 



Twice I asked and twice you granted, and a Kshatra asks no 

more — 
Unto Brahmins it is gii'en asking favours evermore." * 

If ever there was a priesthood naively intent on the loaves 
and fishes, it is the Brahmins, as represented in these epics. 
But the glory and grandeur of Brahminhood is nowhere 
so emphatically announced as in the episode of Visvamitra 
(Ramayana, Book I., Cantos 52-65). This Kshattrya 
prince had a contest with the Brahmin Yasishtha for the 
possession of "the cow of plenty," and was beaten by 
"the superior power inherent in Brahminism." Therefore, 
he determined to raise himself to that dignity, and accord- 
ingly subjected himself to extreme austerities for thousands 
of years. "The gods," says Sir M. Monier-Williams, "who 
had a hard struggle to hold their own against over-zealous 
ascetics, did what they could to interrupt him, and par- 
tially succeeded. Visvamitra yielded for a time to the 
seductions of the nymph Menaka. . . . However, in the 
end, the obstinate old ascetic was too much for the whole 
troop of deities. He obtained complete power over his 
passions, and when the gods still refused to Brahminize 
him, he began creating new heavens and new gods, and 
had already manufactured a few stars when the celestial 
host thought it prudent to give in and make him a 
Brahmin." This legend shows Brahminism to be at once 
the summit of earthly ambition, and a summit unattainable 
to anyone not born in it, unless he be strong enough to 
conquer the gods themselves. 

In the story of Visvamitra, too, we come upon the second 
of the general ideas which pervade the epics — to wit, the 
sanctity, nobility and magical efficacy of asceticism. This 
idea speaks, not to say shrieks, from every page. "The 

» R. C. Dutt's extracts from the Mahabharata. 


performance of penitences was like making deposits in the 
bank of heaven. By degrees an enormous credit was 
accumulated, which enabled the depositor to draw to the 
amount of his savings, without fear of his drafts being 
refused payment. The power gained in this manner by 
weak mortals was so enormous that gods as well as men 
were equally at the mercy of these all but omnipotent 
ascetics." No serious attempt is made to read ethical 
value into asceticism; it is practically admitted to be a 
method of pure magic. This is apparent in the fact that 
even rakshasas, or demons, can accumulate power by self- 
torture. The theme of the Ramayana, indeed, is nothing 
but the outwitting of a demon, Ravan, who had by this 
means rendered himself inconveniently formidable. He had 
extorted from the god Brahma the assurance that neither 
gods, genii, demons nor giants should be able to A'anquish 
him. But he had disdained to stipulate for invulnerability 
at the hands of men ; wherefore Vishnu, ever ready for a 
new avatar, consented to be born as four men, the reputed 
sons of King Dasaratha. One half of him became Rama, 
one fourth Bharata ; and it needs no great skill in vulgar 
fractions to conjecture that the other two, Lakshman and 
Satrugna, each represented one-eighth of the godhead. 
Nevertheless, they were men within the meaning of the 
Brahma-Ravan compact, and were therefore able, after 
a gigantic struggle, to vanquish and slay the demon ascetic. 
This is by no means the most grotesque example of the part 
played by asceticism in the machinery of the epics. Ascetics 
are, indeed (paradoxical as it may seem), the actual fathers 
of most of the leading figures of the Mahabharata; and the 
generation-stories,* of these renowned personages, of 

• In the recently-pulilished Myths of the Hindus and Buddhists 
(London, Harrap, 19IS), tlie birth-stories of tlie Mahabharata are passed 
over in discreet silenee. This part of the work is by Sister Nivedita. 



Vyasa, Dritarashtra, Pandu, and Vidura, of Yudishthira, 
Bhima, Arjuna, Nakula, Sahadeva, and Duryodhana, are 
surely among the most nauseous known to folklore. It is 
a characteristic of legendary asceticism that it renders its 
votaries insanely short-tempered and vindictive. Incal- 
culable is the trouble wrought by the maledictions of iras- 
cible rishis. In short, it is not easy to think of a more 
unwholesome doctrine than that of the virtues of self- 
torture, as presented to the Indian mind in the epics. 

Be it noted, however, that asceticism is a jealously- 
guarded privilege of the twice-born castes. The son of a 
Brahmin having died at the age of fourteen, it was pointed 
out to Rama that such a portent showed that there must 
be some terrible sin in progress in the world. "He found 
no sin in the west, or in the north, and the east was crystal 
clear." But in the south, beside a sacred pool, a yogi 
was standing on his head and "practising the most severe 
disciplines." Rama asked him to what caste he belonged, 
and on learning that he was a Sudra, promptly cut off his 
head ; whereupon "the gods rained down flowers and praised 
the deed." The cold-blooded arrogance which inspired this 
legend is outdone in the story of Ekalavya, in the Mahab- 
harata. Ekalavya was "a low-caste prince of non-Aryan 
birth" who aspired to be taught archery by Drona, the 
trainer of the Pandu princes. Rejected on account of his 
low birth, he retired to the forest and made a clay image 
of Drona, to which he paid such strenuous and ascetic 
devotion that he became an accomplished marksman. A 
dog belonging to Drona came upon the devotee, and was 
so alarmed by his hideous appearance that he began to 
bark. "Before he could close his mouth, the prince 
Ekalavya had shot into it no fewer than seven arrows, 
aiming by sound alone." This achievement attracted 
attention to Ekalavya, who, being interrogated, proclaimed 


himself a pupil of Drona. Thereupon that hero sought him 
out and said, "If thou art reallj- my pupO, give me, then, 
the teacher's fee. Give me the thumb of thy right hand." 
The low-born prince, without flinching, cut off his thumb 
and laid it at Drona's feet. "But when the Brahmin had 
gone, and he turned again to his archery, he found that 
liis marvellous lightness of hand was for ever vanished. 
Thus were the royal princes left without rivals in the use 
of arms." 

A more odious anecdote it would be hard to find in any 
of the Sacred Books of the world. It passes, however, 
without a word of protest. If David had been a Kshattrya 
prince, the Brahmin Nathan would have smiled upon his 
treatment of the Sudra Uriah, and very probably the gods 
would have rained down flowers. 

A third general idea running through the epics, is that 
heroism consists in having the stronger medicine-man on 
your side. Especially must you be amply provided with 
magical weapons, like the arrow of Rama which pierced 
the stems of seven palm trees, penetrated a hill that stood 
behind them, then sped through six hells and finally returned 
to the hero's quiver. Similar ideas, on a less extravagant 
scale, are no doubt prevalent in the ballad poetry of all 
primitive peoples. Everywhere we hear of cloaks of dark- 
ness, blades graven with magic runes, immersion in waters 
of in%'ulnerability, and so forth. But only in India do 
these relics and evidences of savagery pervade from end 
to end the sacred writings of the race. Onh' in India is 
magic the very essence both of law and gospel. 

It is sometimes said that the conception of fair play is 
absent from the epic literature. That is true, but it is not 
the essential criticism. Fair play is an ideal of the assault- 
at-amis, not of the battlefield, of sham manoeuvres, not of 
real war. In a boxing-match, arranged with the object of 



testing the skill and endurance of two competitors under 
equal external conditions, it would be manifestly intoler- 
able that one of the combatants should wear spikes on his 
knuckles. But if a robber attacks me on a lonely road, 
and I happen to have a knuckle-duster, or a sword-cane, 
or a revolver, I do not pause to inquire whether my assail- 
ant is similarly armed before I make use of any and every 
advantage I can command. That is real war, and fair 
play has nothing to do with it. If, ha\-ing disarmed my 
assailant, I proceed wantonly to maim him, or perhaps 
to blow his brains out, the law, on proof of the fact, will 
punish me. But in this there is no question of fair play, 
but simply of humanity. Even in war, unnecessary cruelties 
to defenceless people are, in theory, at any rate, forbidden 
by the common consent of mankind. If, however, England 
could, by recourse to magic, make her Dreadnoughts un- 
sinkable and her torpedoes unerringly destructive — if the 
holy ascetics of Germany could, by uttering mantras over 
her ammunition waggons, ensure that every buUet should 
find its billet in a foeman's heart — would either power 
hesitate to make use of this advantage, because it would 
not be fair play.' Assuredly not. Are not all nations, 
as a matter of fact, stri\-ing to secure for themselves the 
exclusive services of the magicians whom we call inventors? 
In bygone times, some feeble effort was made to carry the 
rules of the tourney into actual hostilities, and it was held 
unfair to strike the first blow without a formal declaration 
of war. But even that formality no longer obtains. It is 
recognized as the business of a belligerent to take every 
possible advantage; and if treachery, such as the abuse 
of the white flag, is barred, it is only because reason per- 
ceives the observance of certain conventions to be equally 
to the advantage of both parties. 

It is not, then, because magic is unfair that its prevalence 


in the epics is to be regretted — it is because it is unreal. 
In saying tliis, I am not dogmatizing as to the existence or 
non-existence of occult powers : I am merely asserting the 
obvious fact that the battles of life, whether individual or 
national, have never been won by magic. When, by a 
convenient metaphor, we speak of the "magic" of science, 
we mean the results, not of spells or talismans, but of 
arduous research into the secrets of Nature, carried on by 
generations of tireless and devoted students. It is this 
recognition of the necessity for individual effort that is 
absent from the epics. We seldom or never feel that any- 
one is really brave, really strong, really skilful. Of what 
worth is the valour of the hero who fights with enchanted 
weapons, and knows that, even if he is killed, it is a hundred 
to one that he will be brought to life again.'' As for 
strength and skill, they are both constantly represented 
as so superlative, so astounding, that there is no possibility 
of their having been acquired by honest human effort and 
assiduity — they are manifestly (even where it is not stated 
in so many words) the results of sheer magic. Can there be 
anything less fortifying to character than the adoration of 
heroes who, while constantly extolled for their virtue, owe 
their prodigious powers to influences with which character 
has nothing to do.'' 

Even where cliaracter can actually be said to manifest 
itself, it is dehumanized by gross exaggeration. The saint- 
liness of Rama, for example — his unconiplaining, unresent- 
ful acquiescence in the banishment brought upon him by a 
wicked step-mother — his refusal to return to Ayodhya even 
when Dasaratha is dead and Bharata implores him to fulfil 
what both know to have been the real desire of their father 
— all this is too overstrained to have any true moral value. 
Again, his repudiation of Sita, not because he has the slight- 
est doubt of her puritv, but because "people talk." and 


Rama's wife must be above suspicion, is as unedifying an 
act as ever hero perpetrated. This story, no doubt, 
occurs in the "Uttara Kanda," a late, and, one may ahnost 
saj', a spurious, addition to the Ramayana proper; but do 
the myriad worshippers of the hero, who think to find 
salvation in repeating, "Ram, Ram, Sita, Ram," distinguish 
critically between the sacred canon and the apocrypha? 
Where the epic heroes perform any action that is not 
magical, but recognizably human, it is apt to be extremely 
undesirable. Such an action is Lakshman's cutting off the 
nose and ears of the rakshasi Surpanakha ; such an action is 
the Pandus' burning alive of an unoffending low-caste wo- 
man and her five sons. Yudhishthira's gambling frenzy, 
upon which the plot of the Mahabharata turns, is certainly 
"ail-too human," except in so far as it is represented that 
he knew he was being cheated, and played on as a point of 
honour. Who can say how much the Indian passion for 
gambling has been fortified bj' this episode in the life of "the 
Hindu ideal of excellence — a pattern of justice, integrity, 
calm passionless composure, chivalrous honour and cold 
heroism?" The same pattern of virtue, by the way, on the 
field of Kurukshetra, compasses the death of Drona by a 
particularly' base equivocation. The only characters in the 
epics that can arouse anything like rational admiration are 
the long-suffering and devoted women of whom Sita is the 
type. Their stories are sometimes really touching, though 
the heroism they display is too often, like that of Alkestis 
or Griselda, excessive to the verge of immorality. 

But in an}' discussion of the Indian character as mani- 
fested in, and influenced by, the national epics, the last as 
well as the first word must be one of regret for the self-de- 
feating, the enervating, the exhausting extravagance of 
hvperbole which is their most characteristic feature. Eng- 
lish readers probably know them best in the able, but enor- 


inously condensed, translations of Romesh Chunder Dutt,* 
in which the wildest monstrosities are very naturally and 
properly suppressed. Let me give a few instances culled at 
random from the Raniayana, which, I take it, is really the 
more popular of the two. Thousands of pilgrims are con- 
stantly making the round of the sacred spots where Rama 
and Sita abode during their exile — the stations of Rama's 
cross, so to speak. 

Here is a passage from the battle between Vasishtha and 
Visvamitra for the possession of "the cow of plenty." Vis- 
vamitra has just slaughtered a mighty host of his adver- 
saries' warriors : 

So o'er the field that host lay strewn, 
By Visvamitra's darts o'erthrown. 
Then thus Vasishtha charged the cow: 
"Create with all thy vigour now." 

Forth sprang Kambojas as she lowed; 
Bright as the sun their faces glowed. 
Forth from her udder Barbars poured, — 
Soldiers who brandished spear and sword — 
And Yavans with their shafts and darts, 
And Sakas from her hinder parts. 
And every pore upon her fell. 
And every liair-producing cell. 
With Mlechclias and Kiratas teemed. 
And forth witli them Haritas streamed. 
And Visvamitra's mighty force. 
Car, elephant, and foot and horse. 
Fell in a moment's time, subdued. 
By that tremendous multitude. 
The monarch's hundred sons, whose eyes 

* Now accessible in "Everyman's Library" (Dent), Mr. Dutt's version 
contains something like 8,000 lines. The Ramaynna (exclusive of the 
"Uttara Kanda") runs to 50,000 lines, and the Mahabharata to :?:iO,000. 
The Iliad and Odvssey together contain about 30,0lX) lines. 



Beheld the rout in wild surprise. 

Armed with all weapons^ mad with rage, 

Rushed fiercely on the holy sage: 

One cry he raised, one glance he shot, 

And all fell scorched upon the spot: 

Burnt by the sage to ashes, they 

With horse, and foot and chariot lay. 

Remember that tliis is only one episode, in a long strug- 
gle conceived throughout in similar proportions. Visvami- 
tra next takes to throwing a whole armoury of magical 
weapons : 

These fearful darts in fiery rain. 

He hurled upon the saint amain. 

An awful miracle to view. 

But, as the ceaseless tempest flew. 

The sage, with wand of god-sent power, 

Still swallowed up that fiery shower. 

Nor could the triple world withdraw 
Rapt gazes from that sight of awe: 
For as he swallowed down the dart 
Of Brahma, sparks from every part, 
From finest pore and hair-cell, broke. 
Enveloped in a veil of smoke. 

The hermits, whom that sight had awed. 
Extolled the saint with hymn and laud. 
The king, o'erpowered and ashamed. 
With many a deep-drawn sigh exclaimed, 
"Ah! Warriors' strength is poor and slight: 
A Brahmin's power is truly might."* 

The story of the bringing down to earth of Gunga (the 
Ganges) is very characteristic. She was the daughter of 

* Griffith's translation (Benares, 1870), Book I., Cantos 55, 56, 


Himavat, lord of mountains. The sixty thousand sons of a 
certain king, having offended tiie sage, Kapila, were by him 
reduced to ashes. A relative, Bhagiratha, wishing to per- 
form their funeral rites, was told that to that end he must 
employ the sacred waters of Gunga. Thereupon : 

Bhagiratha spent a thousand years, eating only once a month, 
surrounded with five fires and his arms uplifted. Brahma, pleased 
with his austerities, granted his boon that Gunga should come 
down to water the ashes of his forefathers. Bhagiratha next spent 
a year in adoring Siva, that he might break the fall of Gunga. 
She fell with great fury upon Siva, thinking to sweep him down 
to the infernal regions. Siva, however, compelled her to wander 
many years in the tresses of his hair. By further austerities 
Bhagiratha forced her to flow on the earth. 

Hard upon this follows the storj' of the Churning of the 
Ocean, which I shall not recount. It is admired by the 
thorough-going India-worshipper, and sculptures represent- 
ing it are warmly praised by Mr. Havell. To me it seems 
(like the story of Manu, the fish, and the flood) a very in- 
teresting piece of folk-lore, but I cannot understand how 
it can awaken any feeling, other than scientific interest, in 
any civilized person, or person aspiring to civilization. 

Let us now turn to the famous Hindi version of the Rama- 
yana by Tulsi Das* — the version which brings us nearest, 
no doubt, to the foitn in which the poem now reaches the 
Indian masses. Here are two specimens of stj'le: 

Not Sarada himself could do justice to the noble steed on which 
Rama rode. Sankara was enchanted with his beauty, and con- 
gratulated himself on liaving fifteen eyes. When Hari affection- 
ately gazed on Rama, he and Lakshmi were both equally 
charmed; wliilc Bralmia rejoiced to behold his beauty, and rc- 

• Translated by F. S. Growsc, AUahabad, 1883. 



gretted that he had only eight eyes. Kartikeya exulted greatly 
that in the matter of eyes he was half as well off again as Brah- 
ma. . . . All tlie gods broke out in Indra's praise, saying, "To- 
day there is no one like him," [Because Indra had one thousand 
eyes.] All heaven was delighted at the sight of Rama. . . , The 
welkin resounded with multitudinous kettledrums; the gods rained 
down flowers and shouted in their joy, "Glory, glory, glory to 
Ragu's noble son" (p. 152). 

From the description of Queen Kaikeyi, in the scene in 
which she extorts from King Dasaratha the promise to ban- 
ish Rama: 

So saying the wretch rose and stood erect, as it were a swollen 
flood of wrath that had risen in the mountains of sin, turgid with 
streams of passion, terrible to behold, with two boons for its 
banks, her stern obduracy for its current, and her voluble speech 
for its eddies, overflowing the king like some tree torn up by its 
roots, as it rushed on to the ocean of calamity. 

Now let us take a characteristic battle-piece — one of a 
hundred similar passages scattered through the two epics : 

Then Ravan * hurled forth ten spears, which struck the four 
horses and brought them to the ground, Rama was furious: he 
raised the horses and then drew his bow and let fly his arrows. 
The edge of Raghubir's [Rama's] shafts swept off Ravan's heads 
as though they had been lotuses. He smote each of his heads 
with ten arrows; the blood rushed forth in torrents. Streaming 
with gore, he rushed on in his strength ; but the Lord again fitted 
arrows to his bow and let fly thirty shifts ; his heads and arms 
all fell to the ground. Again Rama smote away his arms and 
heads; for they had grown afresh after being cut off. Time 
after time the Lord struck off his arms and heads, but they were 
no sooner smitten off than they were again renewed. . . . The 

* It may be mentioned that the chariots of Ravan's host numbered 
150,000,000, his elephants 300,000,000, and his horses and asses 1,200,- 
000,000. Griffith's Ramayana, Book VI., Canto 96. 


whole heaven was full of heads and arms. . . . When Ravan saw 
this multiplication of his heads, he thought no more of death and 
waxed still more furious. He thundered aloud in his insane 
pride, and rushed forward with his ten bows all strung at once, 
raging wildly on the field of battle, and overwhelmed Rama's 
chariot with such a shower of arrows that, for a moment, it was 
quite lost to sight, as when the sun is obscured by a mist. The 
gods cried "Alack, alack!" — but the Lord wrathfully grasped his 
bow, and parrying the arrows,* smote off his enemy's heads, 
which flew in all directions, covering heaven and earth. Severed 
as they were, they flew through the sky, uttering hideous cries 
of "Victory, victory ! Where is Lakshman, where Sugriva and 
Angad.'' Where Rama, the prince of Kosala? Where now is 
Rama.""" cried the heads as they sped through the air. The mon- 
keys saw and turned to flight; but the jewel of the race of Raghu, 
with a smile, made ready his bow, and with his arrows shot the 
heads through and througli ; as though the goddess Kali, with a 
rosary of skulls in her hand, and accompanied bj' all her attend- 
ants, had bathed in the river Blood and come to worship at the 
shrine of Battle (pp. 471-172). 

Let it be noted that this is not a unique or exceptional 
nightmare; it quite fairly represents all the battle- 
scenes of the two poems. Indeed, there are many common 
circumstances of epic strife that do not occur in this pas- 
sage. For instance: 

Ravan mounted his own shining car and led a rakshasa host 
against the monkeys; he seemed like the Destroyer himself ac- 
companied by ghosts and flesh-devouri:ig monsters with burning 
eyes. Big-belly and Goblin and Man-destroyer and Three-heads, 
fighters with mountain-peaks and flaming maces, came with Ra- 
van. . . . Then first Sugriva hurled a mountain-top at him, but 

* There is nothing commoner than for the champion of the stronger 
magic to ward off a hail-stonn of arrows by breaking them in tlieir flight 
with his own arrows. Such feats arc child's play to Rama, Kama, and 



Havan severed it with his golden shafts. ... So Kumbhakarna 
("Pot-ear") drank two thousand flasks of wine, and marched out 
like a moving mountain, clad in golden mail, to attack the mon- 
keys. The monkeys fled in terror, but "Pot-ear" caught them and 
rushed about devouring them by handfuls ; * so that the blood and 
fat dropped from his mouth. Then Rama with Hanuman and 
other brave monkeys fell on him with trees and mountain tops. 
. . . Despite his wounds, Jambavan, the king of the bears, spoke 
to Hanuman :f "Thou shalt bound over the sea, and reach Him- 
alaj'a, king of mountains, and bring thence the four life-giving 
herbs that grow on him, and return forthwith with healing for 
the monkey host." Then Hanuman roared and sprang; and he 
passed across the sea, and over hills and woods and rivers and 
cities till he came to Himalaya and beheld its hermitages. He 
ranged the mountain, but the herbs were hidden from him ; and 
angered and impatient Hanuman rooted up the whole mountain 
and sprang with it into the air and returned to Lanka [Ceylon]. 
And the slain and wounded monkeys rose up whole, as if from 
restful sleep, healed by the savour of the four medicinal herbs. 
. . . Sakra sent down from Heaven his car and his charioteer to 
aid the son of Dasaratha in his fight ; and Rama went about and 
greeted it, and, mounting upon it, seemed to light the whole 
world with his splendour. But Ravan loosed at him a rakshasa 
weapon, and its golden shafts, with fiery faces vomiting flames, 
poured over Rama from every side, and changed to venomous 
serpents. . . . Then Rama took up the Brahma weapon given to 
him by Agastya. Blessing that shaft with Vedic mantras, Rama 
set it on his bow and loosed it, and it sped to its appointed place, 
and cleft the breast of Ravan and, bathed in blood, returned and 
entered Rama's quiver humbly. :j: 

* Some of them, however, escaped through his nostrils and ears. 

t The monkey hero worshipped as a god all over India. There is 
no commoner road-side idol, unless it be the elephant-headed Ganesh. 
Fancy Europe bestrewn with flower-decked shrines dedicated to Puss- 
in-Boots ! 

t Condensed from Myths of the Hindus and Buddhists, pp. 84-94. 
(This portion by Dr. A. K. Coomaraswamy. ) 


The Mahabharata is in no way behind the Ramayana in 
crudit3' and extravagance. Indeed, though some critics re- 
gard it as later in point of composition,* it is in man}- re- 
spects the more barbarous of the two. Not to weary the 
reader with a piling up of extravagances, I will merely men- 
tion one characteristic trait: Arjuna is recognized as the 
gcneral-in-chief of the Pandu forces because he is "capable 
of fighting from his chariot with sixty thousand foes at 

Have we not, in these limitless, insensate conceptions of 
superhuman heroism, and of divine and demonic power ex- 
pressing itself in terms of frenzied ferocity, the key to the 
all-penading sense of strain and contortion that is so fati- 
guing in Indian sculpture .'' The exercise of imagination is 
conceived by poet and artist alike as a sort of mental epi- 
lepsy, a horrible and exhausting convulsion. As for the 
plea that there is a profound metaphysical or spiritual sig- 
nificance under these convulsions, believe it who can! I am, 
of course, not denying that S3'mbolical meanings can be read 
into the folk-lore of the epics and the Puranas, and have been 
read into them, perhaps from very early ages. But that such 
meanings were always, or even frequently, present to the 
minds of the poets who sang, or the sculptors who carved, is 
to me incredible. Nor do I believe that the unsophisticated 
populace of to-day have at their command the supersubtle 
alchemy which can distil spiritual sustenance from the turbid 
flood of primitive and barbarous legendry. 

If the epic heroes have, for the most part, the nine lives 
of a cat, this is by no means the case with the conmion, low- 
caste multitude. The carnage of the battles of Lanka, 
Kurukshctra and elsewhere is unparalleled in song or story; 
and the revival of the monkey host by Hanuman's Hima- 

* One of the reasons is that suttee is not mentioned in the Raniayana, 
but is an established custom in the Mahabharata. 



layan herbs is (I think) a unique incident. Everywhere we 
are conscious of a background crowded with untold multi- 
tudes of unconsidered lives ; and again this characteristic 
is reflected in sculpture to the utmost limit of material possi- 
bility. Overstrain in indi\'idual figures, overcrowding in 
backgrounds and decorations : these are the besetting sins 
of Hindu art — both clearly traceable to ethnic and climatic 

The vice of hyperbole is by no means confined to the epics. 
It meets us on every hand. In the Harsa-Carita* of Bana, 
a historical romance, dating from the seventh century of 
our era, the epic poets are positively outdone; while with 
their passion for hyperbole is blended an amazing and amus- 
ing Euphuism, anticipating Euphues by a thousand years. 
Here is a description of the camp of Sri-Harsa: 

It seemed like a creation-ground where the Prajapatis prac- 
tised their skill, or a fourth world made out of the choicest parts 
of the other three; its glory could not be described in hundreds 
of Mahabharatas — it must have been put together in a thou- 
sand golden ages, and its perfection constructed with millions of 
swargas [heavens], and it seemed watched over by crores of tute- 
lary royal deities (p. 49)- 

Four pages of widely hyperbolical description of the 
King's favourite elephant culminate in this outburst: 

And Bana wondered, thinking to himself, "Surely in his crea- 
tion mountains were used up as atoms, how else could this as- 
tonishing majesty have been produced? It is indeed a marvel — 
a Vindhya with tusks" (p. 56). 

The Vindhyas are the dividing range between northern 
and peninsular India. The description of Harsa himself re- 

* Translation by E. B. Cowell and F. W. Thomas. 


minds one of Cleopatra's description of Antony ("His face 
was as the heavens," etc.) multiplied about fifty times both 
in length and in extravagance. Harsa hears of his father's 
illness while away on an expedition, and takes prompt meas- 
ures for the preservation of the old king's life: 

He rinsed his mouth, and conveyed to Brahmins the whole of 
his regal equipage, jewels and gold and silver to a vast amount. 

But his munificence is unavailing, and his father dies. The 
anguish of his loss, however, is assuaged by the constant 
attendance of 

Old Brahmins versed in Sruli, Smriti, and Itihasa* . . . ap- 
proved ascetics well-trained in the doctrine of the Self, sages in- 
different to pain and pleasure, Vedantists skilled in expounding 
the nothingness of the fleeting world, mythologists expert in al- 
laying sorrow (p. l62). 

The pictures of manners, so far as they can be seen 
through the mists of exaggeration, are most interesting. 
The writer shows real art in descriptions of swarming life, 
in which he brings together a hundred animated groups, 
such as we sec in Indian paintings and illuminations. Every- 
where throughout the book we seem to be moving among 
bewildering throngs of nmltitudinous humanity. And this is, 
no doubt, mere realism on the author's part, so long as he 
keeps in check liis passion for mythologico-metaphorical ag- 
grandisement, after this fashion : 

The king himself was surprised at his forces, and, casting his 
eyes in every direction, beheld an army starting out of its encamp- 
ment, in appearance like the animate world tumbling at an aeon's 

* Sntti — revelations. Smriti — autlioritulive writings, not revealed. 
Itihasa— hisioTies. 



commencement from Vishnu's belly, the ocean overflooding the 
world in a stream from Agastya's mouth, the Narmada's flood 
rolling a thousand rills after being dammed and let loose again 
by Arj Una's thousand arms (p. 206). 

Bana's most stupendous effort, however, is the statement 
that the Commander-in-Chief, Skandagupta, had "a nose 
as long as his sovereign's pedigree." This is singled out 
by Mr. Vincent Smith as "the most grotesque simile in all 
literature" — and certainly it would be hard to beat. 

When we pass from epic to drama, we escape from the at- 
mosphere of systematic inflation and contortion. Here the 
imagination can move healthfully and at ease, instead of 
passing through epilepsy to paralysis. The dramatic form 
imposed strict limits upon fantasy, since it was impossible 
to show heroes fighting with sixty thousand foemen at once, 
or hurling mountain peaks, or clea\ang one flying arrow 
with another, to say nothing of performing the same feat 
with hundreds of shafts simultaneously. The magic of the 
epics so infinitely surpassed all possible magic of the stage, 
that playwrights made no attempt to reproduce it. But 
even the dialogue, in wliich, of course, hyperbole would have 
been possible, is comparatively free from it.* The drama, 
in fact, is a culture-product, marked, in many cases, by real 
grace and charm. The testimony of a cloud of witnesses 
proclaims Kalidasa to be a great poet ; and though his Sak- 

* There seems to have been in the dramatic period a real reaction 
against monstrosity, not merely due to the conditions of presentation. 
In the Uttara Rama Cheritra of Bhavabhuti, a large part of the 
Ramayana is summarized in a series of pictures supposed to be viewed 
by Rama, Sita and Lakshman. It would have been easy, in the descrip- 
tion of these pictures, to pile up the marvels after the epic manner; but 
the temptation is, on the whole, resisted. So, too, in the description by 
"Aerial Spirits" of the fight between Lava and Chandraketu, supposed 
to be proceeding behind the scenes, the hyperboles, though tremendous, 
are judiciously vague. 


untala may not seem quite to justify Goethe's ecstatic qua- 
train, it is undoubtedly an exquisite fairy-tale. The Toy- 
Cart, again, is a spirited novel in dialogue, really interest- 
ing as a more or less credible picture of manners: Malati 
and Madhava is a wild but picturesque romance, playing 
around the horrors of human sacrifice; Retnavali is a com- 
edy of intrigue, in wliich disguise and mistaken identity are 
employed with a recklessness not without parallel, perhaps, 
in the Spanish and Elizabethan theatre; and several other 
plays are like anticipations of Lope or Calderon in their 
most romantic and rhetorical moods. Of any influence pro- 
ceeding from the Attic drama I can find no trace. The 
mere fact that anj-thing like tragedy is undreamed of in 
India ought surely to negative that hypothesis. 

But, with all its human qualities, the Hindu drama re- 
mains a curiously undeveloped art-form. In point of quan- 
tity it is meagre as compared with the dramatic literature 
of either the West or the Far East, not more than three 
plays being attributed to any one writer. As its heroes all 
speak in Sanskrit, it can never have been understanded of 
the people, but must have been mainly, if not exclusively, a 
court diversion. There are traces, indeed, of a vernacular 
drama in comparatively early times, but it never took lit- 
erary form; and though folk-plays on epic subjects (with 
wicker-work giants and demons) are common to this day, 
India has never developed a theatre — I mean a form of 
building adapted to her form of drama. The Greek, the 
English, the Spanish, the Chinese, the Japanese dramas, all 
housed themselves in appropriate edifices, in relation to 
which they developed a special technic ; but the Indian drama 
seems never to have had even a stage of its own.* Though 
critics minutely analysed and classified its devices and ef- 

* The Indian theatre of to-day is franlvly copied from the ordinary 
European theatre. 



fects, it remained fluid to the point of formlessness, accept- 
ing every possible convention, scorning all restrictions of 
time and place, and demanding of the playwright no skill in 
construction, no labour of condensation. 

This might conceivably have been a merit rather than 
a defect. It is, perhaps, a mere Western prejudice which 
leads us to value the dramatist's art in proportion to its 
difficulty, and admire the technical skill with which he con- 
centrates into two or three hours of time, and two or three 
definite points of space, the culmination of a long life-his- 
tory or the disastrous on-rush of a mighty passion. The- 
orists are not wanting who argue that our endeavours to 
minimize the element of convention in drama, and limit the 
necessity for make-believe, are all a mistake; and even if 
we cannot go so far as this, we can readily grant it to be 
possible that a form of drama which abandoned all idea of 
illusion might profit by its liberty and produce remarkable 
effects. But I do not think that the Indian drama can be 
cited in support of this contention. Along with the fluidity 
of form goes a no less notable fluidity of spirit. The element 
of will, in which some critics see the very essence of drama, 
and which is certainly the mainspring of most of the great 
dramas of the world, is conspicuously absent from Indian 
plays. Nowhere do we find a great character at odds with 
destiny, or a great passion sweeping everytliing before it, 
like a glistering lava stream. Nowhere do we find energetic 
determination indomitably compassing its ends,* or, it may 
be, baffled and broken by superior cunning, or virtue, or 
might. The personages of Indian drama are always the 

* One play, Mudra rakshasa, may perhaps be quoted as an exception 
to this rule. It deals with the stratagems whereby Chanakya, the Brahmin 
minister of Chandragupta, wins over a rival politician to his side. It 
is more dramatic in the European sense of the word than any other Indian 
play known to me. 


sport of circumstances or of capricious supernatural pow- 
ers. Take, for instance, the Sakmitala. More than a third 
of the play is occupied witli the idyUic love-making of hero 
and heroine. Then, after their "Gandharvan" marriage, 
an ascetic, irritated by some fancied neglect on Sakuntala's 
part, decrees that King Dushyanta shall lose all memory 
of his marriage until it is recalled to his mind by the sight 
of a signet ring wliich he has given to Sakuntala. On her 
way to Dushyanta's palace, Sakuntala chances to drop the 
ring into a stream, and is consequently disowned by her 
husband. Does she, then, do anything, make any effort to 
counteract these unhappy chances, the angering of the rishi 
and the loss of the ring.' Or does anybody make any effort 
on her behalf? Not at all. She is wafted away to some 
agreeable retreat by a friendly nymph; the ring is recovered 
in a fish's maw, and brought to Dushyanta; and then, either 
by pure chance or by divine intervention — at any rate, 
without any effort of his own — he comes upon the child 
Sakuntala has borne him, recognizes him by the help of the 
I'oix du sang and other evidences, and is finally reunited to 
Sakuntala herself. This is, as I have said, a pretty fairy- 
tale, but it is entirely lacking in that exercise of volition 
which might have made it a drama. Compare it with Shake- 
speare's AlVs well that ends well, of which the theme is not 
quite dissimilar. The means which Helena takes to impose 
her will on the recalcitrant Bertram are improbable and re- 
pellent, but they are dramatic. She makes a determined 
struggle to obtain her ends ; she is resolutely active, while 
Sakuntala (like everybody else in the play) is as passive as 
a leaf on a stream. The Indian poem is incomparably the 
more beautiful of the two; but if it be drama at all, it is 
the drama of passivity, which is, to the European mind, a 
contradiction in terms, Does not "drama" mean "thing 



In Vihrama and Urvasi, another of Kalidasa's plaj-s, the 
plot again turns on a sage's curse ; again the voia: du sang 
contributes to the solution; and again the characters are 
the passive puppets of supernatural wire-pulling. The 
Uttara Rama Ch^ritra, which deals with Rama's repudia- 
tion of Sita because popular rumour casts suspicion on her 
conduct during her captivity in Lanka, offers a good in- 
stance of the Indian playwright's practice of skipping over 
the very crisis in which character displaj's itself. One would 
think that the interest of such a subject would lie in the 
struggle in Rama's soul between his love for Sita and his 
fancied duty to his people. But, as a matter of fact, no 
such struggle occurs.* The moment the popular slander is 
reported to him, he decides to cast her off, though a fiery 
ordeal has long ago removed from his own mind all doubt 
of her innocence. 

Durmukha. Must she ... be banished hence 

To please a thankless and malignant people ? 

Rama. N^ay, blame them not . . . For who that witnessed not 
The wondrous test of purity could credit 
Such marvels in a distant region wrought ?t 

And this is the divine hero of the Indian people, the seventh 
avatar of Vishnu! It is noteworthy, too, that the play- 
wright entirely omits to present to us Sita's discovery of 
the heartless stratagem whereby she has been lured away, 
without leave-taking, from the court of Ayodhya. It al- 
most seems as though opportunities for the active manifes- 
tation of character were systematically avoided. 

In assuming character-in-action to be the essence of 

* Though there is no struggle there is plentj- of lamentation. It may 
be noted that the Indian dramatic hero, even Rama himself, is very much 
given to fainting at critical moments. 

t Translation by H. H. Wilson; Theatre of the Hindus, Vol. I., p. 309. 



drama, I may appear to be insisting on an arbitrary point 
of a;sthetic definition ; but that is not really so. India has, 
no doubt, a perfect right to define mimetic art in her own 
way. She owes no deference either to the Greek word 
"drama," or to the European conception which it embodies. 
My point is psychological, not a'sthetic. A people which 
leaves out of its drama the element of will, probably does 
so because the element of will plays no efficient part in its 
life. And is not tliis just the key to Indian history.'' Hin- 
duism, as a popular religion, consists in the cult of a mon- 
strous folk-lore, oppressing and paralysing the imagina- 
tion, and showing human beings as the passive playthings of 
stupendous and multitudinous gods, demigods and demons. 
What avails the human will in a world which is entirely at 
the mercy of magical influences, in which courage is useless 
without an appropriate mantra, and resolution impotent 
against an inauspicious star? Hinduism, as a philosophy, 
preaches the unreality of the material world, detachment 
from terrestrial interests, and the unimportance of the life 
of the moment as compared with the endless chain of past 
and future existences — all doctrines which tend directly to 
the enfeeblement of volitional individuality. Is it not this 
passivity of mental habit, mirrored in the drama, that has, 
time out of mind, left India at the mercy of strong-willed 
races from without, until they have, in tlieir turn, yielded to 
the creeping paralysis? 

Thk Ixfluence of Islam: Aucuitkctiiik. 

From the year 1000 onwards, until the coming of the 
sea-borne races from Western Europe, all these strong- 
willed invaders were of the Muslim faith. Now Muhamma- 
danism was theoreticallj', and to some e.xtent practically, 
inimical to art. It carried its hatred of graven images to 



the point of violent iconoclasm, and thus did all it could, 
practically as well as theoretically, to discourage sculpture. 
Its principles do not seem to have prohibited drama, for we 
hear of Muhammadan miracle-plays; but neither in India 
nor elsewhere did it produce anything notable in the way 
of dramatic literature. Perhaps its fatalism was unfavour- 
able to the art of the struggling will; perhaps its sanction 
of polygamy excluded the conflicts of passion on which the 
European theatre so largely subsists.* A people which de- 
clines to idealize the emotions of sex cuts itself off from 
half the great themes of the world's drama. In narrative or 
lyric poetr}-, I cannot discover that Indian literature owes 
much to Muslim inspiration. But in two great arts — name- 
ly, architecture and painting — the influence of Islam was, 
it seems to me, conspicuous and beneficent. 

Here one treads on dangerous ground. Mr. Havell and 
the sturdy little phalanx of India-worshippers are fiercely 
contemptuous of the slightest hint that India is indebted to 
outside influences for any of her artistic perfections. Every 
architectural form was independently developed in India. 
If anj'thing can be proved to have come from Persia or 
Arabia, it had, in the first instance, been borrowed bj' Persia 
or Arabia from India, which was thus simply reclaiming its 
own. Hindu builders introduced the symbolism of their own 
creed into the details even of Muslim mosques and mauso- 
leums. A preponderance of patently-Muhammadan names 
on the rolls of the craftsmen employed upon famous edifices 
has no terrors for Mr. Havell. He probably assumes that 
most of them were Muslimized Hindus ; though this explana- 
tion seems hardly compatible with his tracing of the decline 

* This would also in part account for the comparative scantiness, 
and nervelessness of Hindu drama. Several comedies such as Retnarali, 
Malarikagnimitra, and Viddha Salabhankija turn upon a Rani's unavail- 
ing opposition to the entrance of a new favourite into the Raja's zenana. 


of architecture under Aurungzeb to that emperor's dismis- 
sal of all craftsmen who were not true believers.* If a Mus- 
limizcd Hindu retained his racial genius under Shah Jahan, 
it is not clear why he should have lost it under Aurungzeb. 
I do not presume, however, to controvert Mr. Havell's eager 
arguments on points on which he is learned and I very ig- 
norant. Nor do I doubt that he is right in vindicating for 
Hindu craftsmanship a very large share in the triumphs of 
Muhammadan architecture and decoration. All I say is that 
he does not succeed in arguing away — or, rather, that he 
seems to ignore — the cardinal fact that wherever we find in 
India a building of remarkable beauty or (if I may so phrase 
it) of rational magnificence, it is almost certain to be distinc- 
tively Muhammadan. Among religious edifices, I can think 
of no exception to this rule. The exceptions that occur to 
me are certain Hindu palaces, chiefly in Rajputana, from 
which, however, IVIuslim and even European influences are 
by no means excluded. 

The giant temples of Southern India are no doubt marvels 
of massive construction, and have often a sort of titantic 
impressivcness. They seem as though they might have been 
built by the rakshasas of the Ramayana. But of unity, 
clarity, nobility of design they show no trace. Ever}'thing 
is ponderous, everytliing is overwrought. Their most promi- 
nent features, the pyramidal gopuras, or gate-towers, 
swarming — one might almost say writhing — with contorted 
semi-human figures, are surely as senseless as anything in 
architecture. Here and there some individual detail, such 
as the colonnade around a sacred tank, may have a certain 
beauty ; but it is always a mere oasis in a desert of gigan- 
tesque barbarism. 

When we pass further north, to temples of more moderate 
dimensions, we still find the same pondcrousncss of material, 
"Indian Architccliirc, pp. 31 nnd 37. 



the same absence of anything like lightness and grace, the 
same, or even greater, profusion of incised ornament. It 
has sometimes seemed to me that the tradition of the rock- 
cut temple must have had an unfortunate influence on tem- 
ple-building in general. In the rock-cut temple, massive- 
ness means economy, for it is clear that the more material 
remains, the less has to be hewn away. In constructed build- 
ings, on the contrary, an}' superfluity of mass is sheer waste, 
both of material and of labour ; yet it often seems as though 
Indian architects aimed at piling as many tons of stone as 
possible on a given plot of ground, in order to make it look 
as though the building were not pieced together, but carved 
out of the living rock. I do not state this as a definite the- 
ory, but merely to illustrate the impression left on my 
mind by a certain order of Indian temple. The sense of 
heaviness is partly due, no doubt, to the total absence of the 
radiating arch and dome, and the universal prevalence of 
the arch (if so it can be called) and dome constructed of 
horizontal layers of masonry, each layer projecting a little 
beyond that on which it rests. This system of construction 
is defended as eliminating the strain from the outward thrust 
of the true arch. So it does, no doubt; but it also eUminates 
the beautiful curve of the arch and the soaring majesty of 
the dome, while it permits of the incrustation on all con- 
structive features of a reckless redundancy of ornament. Is 
it mere prejudice that prevents one from taking any pleasure 
in deeply-incised decoration upon columns and other por- 
tions of a building which ought to sufi^er no diminution of 
their strength, and which permit of tliis erosion only be- 
cause they are massive out of all proportion to structural 
requirements .'' 

The most prevalent external feature of Hindu temples in 
middle and northern India is a cluster of elongated cupolas, 
suggested, I suppose, by the form of the primitive reed hut 


of Bengal. Most of these excrescences correspond to no in- 
ternal feature, and are in no way impressive either individ- 
ually or in their grouping. They are less barbarous, per- 
haps, than tlie gopuras of the south, but scarcely more beau- 

The self-defeating wastefulness of Hindu architecture is 
nowhere more conspicuous than in the Dilwarra Temples 
(Jain) at ]Mount Abu, dating from the eleventh and twelfth 
centuries. Externally they arc of small account ; internally 
they might be exquisitely beautiful if (perhaps) a twentieth 
part of the labour expended on chiselling and undercutting 
their white marble had been judiciously applied to reason- 
able ornament. As it is, they are almost incredible marvels 
of insensate over-elaboration. I should be disposed, in the 
face of a great array of authorities, to apply the same criti- 
cism to the famous Towers of Victory at Chitor. The 
labour lavished on them seems to me quite incommensurate 
with the effect achieved ; but as I visited them hurriedly, 
when twilight was falling, I was perhaps unduly unim- 

To turn from Hindu to Muhammadan architecture is to 
enter another world. As chance would have it, I passed with 
scarcely a pause by the way from the sinister gloom of 
Madura to the grace and refinement of Ahmedabad. Never 
shall I forget the impression made upon me by the exquisite 
marble traceries in Sidi Sayj'id's mosque and at the tomb of 
Shah Alam. It was my first encounter with this wonderful 
art of piercing thin sheets of marble in designs of inexhaus- 
tible variety ; and I was scarcely more delighted with its 
beauty than witii its appropriateness, in giving air along 
with jewelled light to the shady spaces of mosque and tomb. 
Here Mr. Havell agrees with me ; but he, of course, claims 
all the merit for Hinduism. "In this class of window trac- 
ery," he says, "India stands alone; it is a purely Indian de- 



velopment of the sculptor's craft having its origin in the 
Hindu temple tradition. It owed nothing to Persian art : 
the best Ahmedabad tracerj shows no Persian influence." 
This may very likely be so; I would not, even if I could, 
argue the point, for I am in no way concerned to dispute 
the artistic capacity of the Hindu as a man. All I say is 
that the Hindu as a Hindu — in his temple architecture — 
has produced nothing one tithe as beautiful as this marble 
tracery. It is common in Muhammadan buildings : I never 
saw it in a Hindu building: and as !Mr. HaveU cites no speci- 
men from Hindu buildings, we may prettv safely assume 
that none exists. What does it matter, then, whose hand 
held the chisel, or whether certain elements in the design can 
or can not be traced to extra-Indian sources.'' The essen- 
tial and undeniable fact is that Muhammadanism begot these 
things of beauty. It begot them very likely out of Hindu 
craftsmanship, though there is evidence of a considerable 
importation of foreign craftsmen. The one thing certain 
is that, however large a part we may assign to the Hindu 
genius, it was restrained, chastened, rationalized, human- 
ized, by Muhammadan influence, which was thus the deter- 
mining factor in the case. And in my judgment it was the 
determining factor, not only in these marble traceries, but in 
almost all that is truly noble and beautiful in the architec- 
ture of India. 

This is to say a great deal: for India is a veritable fairy- 
land of exquisite architecture. Wherever the Muslim has' 
firmly planted himself, beautiful domes and minarets have 
sprung up, stately halls of sepulture, and marvellous log- 
gias and arcades. The palaces of Agra, of Delhi, of La- 
hore, in the days of their glory, must have thrown utterly 
into the shade anything that Europe had to show in the 
way of sheer loveliness of material and design. To the Eu- 
ropean eye, indeed, their beauty is somewhat discounted by 


the fact tliat, when our Western imagination wants to body 
forth fairyland, on the stage or in book illustration, it gen- 
erally goes to Muslim India for its motives. Thus the gar- 
dens and the fountains, the porticos, the baths and the di- 
wans, of the Mogul palaces have to us an air of theatrical 
unreality. Wc find it difficult to dissociate them from our 
memories of the Arabian Nights, and to imagine them ten- 
anted by real people. Their very perfection of detail is 
cloying. They suggest, not only unbridled lusurj', but ef- 
feminacy and decadence. If, however, we put aside fortui- 
tous association and moral suggestion, and are content with 
visual, sensuous beauty, we cannot but admit that Alad- 
din's genie could not possibly have conjured up anything 
more enchanting. For grandeur, again, we may turn to the 
Jumma Musjid at Delhi, to Huma^mn's Tomb, to the Buland 
Darwaza at Fatehpur Sikri, to the great buildings of Bi- 
japur, and a score of other famous sites. The Muslim habit 
of raising mosques and tombs on magnificent plinths or 
platforms gives them an extraordinary nobility of effect. 
The Taj Mahal itself, that 

Fabric of enchantment, hewn , 

From lucent quarries of the moon, 
Or curdled by some thaumaturge 
From lace-like foam of southern surge, 
From earliest drift of blossom-spray, 
And star-lit snows of Himalay — 

— the Taj itself owes a great part of its impressiveness to 
the art with which it is enthroned on the margcnt of the 
Jumna, and sequestered by its plinth, its sentinel minarets, 
its garden and its majestic gateways, from all prosaic and 
commonplace contiguities. 

The share of the purely Indian genius in all these won- 
derful achievements is an interesting question, to be deter- 



mined — if it can ever be determined — by close investigation 
on the part of technical experts. One would have no hesi- 
tation in accepting Mr. Havell's judgment on the point, 
were he not manifestly biased by theosophical convictions. 
His all-pervading note of impassioned special-pleading is 
sufficient in itself to awaken scepticism. For my part, how- 
ever, I readily grant that it would be absurd to look upon 
Muslim architecture in India as something essentially for- 
eign, in the glory of which India herself had no share. Hindu 
influences on Muslim building are often patent to the most 
cursory observer. At Fatehpur Sikri, for instance — that 
unburied Pompeii of the East — the prevailing style is es- 
sentially Hindu. So, too, in that exquisite structure, Dada 
Harir's well at Ahmedabad, there is nothing characteristi- 
cally MusUm — except moderation and good taste. It may 
even be that Mr. Havell is right in maintaining that the 
Muhammadans brought with them scarcely any form or 
method that had not been independently evolved in India. 
That, I say, is possible, if not very probable. But were it 
proved beyond all question, it would not alter the fact that 
where Indians built under Muhammadan influence they built 
nobly, exquisitely and rationally ; where they built under the 
inspiration of their own mythology, they built, often won- 
derfully, but almost always heavily, gloomily, barbarously, 
and irrationally. The Muslim prohibition of the human 
figure in decoration, and the austere, almost puritan, simpUc- 
ity of the ritual of Islam, were much-needed correctives of 
Hindu over-luxuriance in ornament and monstrosity in the 
conception and adumbration of the divine. I am no ardent 
admirer of Islam; but the glory of its arcliitecture — much 
of it due to princes of more than doubtful orthodoxy — is a 
patent, palpable fact, which proves what India can do when 
it awakes from the hallucinations of yoga and the multi- 
tudinous nightmares of its indigenous cults. 



Indian paintiBg, though discussed with the same fury of 
partisanship as Indian sculpture, is in truth a very much 
sinijjler matter. It is a comparatively modem art. The 
famous Buddliist frescoes in the caves of Ajanta, indeed, 
date from the sixth and seventh centuries of our era; but 
they are an isolated phenomenon. Judging from the copies 
at South Kensington, one would be inclined to see in them 
the beginnings of a bolder, freer, more virile art than has 
ever, in fact, been developed in India. They show vigour 
without violence, and a certain sense of composition. If 
their colour, in the reproductions, is not very pleasing, I 
presume we must allow for the effects of age, and for the pe- 
culiar conditions of light under wliich they were intended 
to be viewed. How it happens that they stand alone — that 
they seem to have sprung from nothing and led to nothing — 
historians must explain if they can. Was painting neg- 
lected because sculpture, as the more laborious, was con- 
sidered the more meritorious art? I cannot tell. India is 
the home of arrested developments and promises unfulfilled. 
There are onlj' too many analogies to the abortive impulse 
which has left its traces at Ajanta. 

Apart from these frescoes, Indian painting is a late and 
post-]Muhammadan development. It does not seem that any- 
thing of importance has come down to us of an earlier date 
than the sixteenth century. Heaven forbid that I should 
commit myself to any theory of foreign influence; but as 
a matter of historic fact, painting was mainly cultivated at 
the courts of the Mogul emperors, and of Rajput and other 
princes, during the Mogul period. It is thus not primarily 
a religious art, but concerns itself largely with historic 
scenes, martial and ceremonial, in substance not unlike the 
illustrations of royal progresses, investitures, marriages, rc- 



\'iews, drawing-rooms, etc., so familiar in the illustrated 
papers of to-day. There are also many episodes of princely 
domesticity, hunting-scenes, and the like. Where religion is 
touched upon, so far as I have observed, it is usually the 
sensual-sentmiental cult of Krishna that provides the inspi- 

What, then, are the general characteristics of this whole 
bod}' of work.'' Thej- are wonderful illuminative richness, 
extraordinarj- delicacy of draughtsmanship in miniature, 
great beauty of decorative detail, a certain power of lend- 
ing animation to scenes of swarming life, but withal a total 
inability to escape from a laborious convention, to attain 
freedom and breadth of design, to suggest to the imagina- 
tion anything more than is presented to the eye. The ab- 
sence or gross imperfection of perspective throws everything 
upon one plane, and forbids any gradation of tone, any 
play of light and shade. There are, no doubt, certain night 
scenes in which firelight or torchlight is employed to pro- 
duce what are commonly called Rembrandtesque effects ; but 
there is no depth, no mystery about them — at most a cer- 
tain hard and limited cleverness. They are an agreeable 
change from the relentless glitter of military and ceremo- 
nial pageantry, and they are interesting as showing a feel- 
ing-forth towards something outside the dominant conven- 
tion. But though they may be great by Indian standards, 
by world-standards they remain small. 

Just as "monstrous" is the epithet that constantly forces 
itself upon us in dealing with Hindu sculpture, so "minia- 
ture" is the term from which there is no escape in the dis- 
cussion of Indian painting. If Florentine art had stopped 
short at Pinturicchio and Benozzo Gozzoli, and if these 
painters had habitually worked on the scale of portfoho 
illuminations, then Florentine art and Indian art would 
have stood somewhere on the same level. The Indian paint- 


er, at his best, is a corisuiimiatc miniaturist. Nothing can 
exceed the delicacy and beauty of tlie best Mogul portrai- 
ture, though even here the sitter is usually presented in flat 
profile, and we feel that the painter's mastery moves within 
very narrow limits. I am very far, however, from denj'ing 
the charm of this style of art. I would not even make any 
large deduction from Mr. Havell's praise of certain ex- 
amples of the school : "With all the sincerity, truthfulness, 
and perfect finish of the old Dutch and Flemish masters, 
these drawings have a delicate flavour of their own, a 
subtlety and sensitiveness which suggest the music of the 
Indian lina, or the sonnets of Hafiz or Omar Khayyam." 
All I say is that Indian design has never thrown off the 
shackles of a somewhat helpless convention. With what a 
sense of enlargement and invigoration does one turn from 
the graphic arts of India to those of China and Japan ! 

Though Indian painting is, as a rule, worldly rather than 
other-worldly, it must not be supposed that the spiritual 
genius of India fails to manifest itself in this form of art. 
The Indian landscape-painter, says Mr. Havell, endeavours 
"to see with the mind, not merely with the eye . . . and, 
above all, to identify himself with the inner consciousness 
of the Nature he portrays, and to make manifest the one 
harmonious law which governs Nature in all her moods." 
And again : "The difference which the European and An- 
glicized Indian attribute to defective technical powers or un- 
developed intellect, is really due to a different intellectual 
atmosphere and a different artistic temperament, created by 
the different answers which East and West give to the 
question — what is reality?" On this contention there are 
two remarks to be made. Firstly, the arrest of development 
in Indian art seems to be closely paralleled by the arrest of 
development in Indian civilization, which can scarcely have 
been determined by metaphysical influences, tliough they 



may, no doubt, have contributed to it. Secondly, the Western 
answer to the question, "What is reahty?" would appear 
to be the right answer from the artist's point of view, if 
from no other, since it has begotten the superbly vigorous 
and various painting of Europe, as opposed to the elaborate 
miniature-work of India. I have seen in a private collection 
one unfinished painting — I think it represented Aurungzeb 
with a hunting-party crossing a river by night — which 
seemed to me a real picture, largely-conceived, imaginative, 
suggestive. All other Indian paintings that I have come 
across are more or less elaborate and beautiful illumina- 
tions and illustrations. 

Art and Chakactee. 

There is no more ungracious or unpopular task than the 
attempt to restore things to reasonable proportions, after 
they have been exaggerated and distorted by enthusiasm. It 
is because I think the Hinduizers do a very ill service to 
India that I have throughout this chapter assumed the part 
of the devil's-advocate. No nation in the world will ever 
qualify itself for facing the complexities of the future by 
idealizing and idolizing its past. No nation will ever make 
itself valid and self-sufficing by fancying that it is peculiarly 
favoured by Heaven, an elect people, the depository of in- 
spirations and intuitions not vouchsafed to the rest of man- 
kind. Such illusions may produce a temporary intoxication, 
and lead to apparent success in some particular crisis. But 
permanent well-being cannot be founded on illusion. 

There is no question whatever that India has splendid 
artistic capacities. They are manifest even in her worst 
excesses of architecture, sculpture and epic poetry. No- 
where is it faculty that is lacking: it is restraint, self-criti- 
cism, sanity. Where feebleness appears, it is the feebleness 


of exhaustion, the reaction following upon violent over- 
strain. I see no reason to think (though the question is 
really unimportant) that any considerable measure of stim- 
ulation reached India from without. It was not stimula- 
tion she wanted, it was restraint ; and that she received, 
often very much to her advantage, from Islamic puritanism. 
From Greece, if she can be said to have learned anything, 
she did not learn nearly enough. Self-satisfaction was from 
the first her besetting sin. As it led to the stereotyping 
and sanctifying of all sorts of social abuses, so it led to the 
arrest and petrifaction of art, in rudimentary, or at any 
rate very undeveloped, stages. We find, therefore, many 
powerful and promising artistic beginnings, but (except in 
Muhammadan architecture and architectural decoration) 
no consummate and perfectly accomplished art. What is 
entirely lacking in the art history of India is "der nie zu- 
friedene Geist der stets auf Neues sinnt." In other coun- 
tries artistic movements germinate, ripen, culminate and 
decay ; in India they do not ripen, but are checked before 
they have even approached maturity. 

All this, of course, is shocking heresy in the eyes of the 
enthusiasts. And why.'' Because they have fallen under 
India's illusion, and have persuaded themselves that art in- 
spired by transcendental Truth must be the greatest art 
in the world.* But India's tinith, if it were true — and it is 
neither more nor less true than any other expression of the 
inexpressible — would be destructive to art. It is only in so 
far as India ignores her own truth, and accepts, provision- 
ally, the real existence of the visible universe, that she pos- 
sesses any art at all. Nor is it probable that her artists, 

* "If India took this from here, that from there, so did Greece, so 
did Italy; but out of what she took came higher ideals than Greece 
ever dreamt of, and things of beauty tliat Italy never realized." E. B. 
Havell, Indian Sculpture and Paintinc/, p. 169. 



as a class, troubled themselves about transcendental Truth. 
They seem to have been highly contented with the surface 
aspects of the tropical jungle of folk-lore which they re- 
garded as revelation. 

The apotheosis of Indian art has aptly coincided with a 
tendency to depreciate the accepted values of the West. Eu- 
rope is a httle tired of her own accompUshment, and op- 
pressed, it may be, by the very mass of her achievement. But 
though this transient weariness is natural enough, and is, 
indeed, only a symptom of that divine discontent which saves 
Western art from stagnant self-complacency, it must not 
be suffered entirely to upset our sense of proportion. The 
plain truth is that if all the great masterpieces of Euro- 
pean sculpture, painting, epic and dramatic literature, were 
destroyed, Europe would, still, in virtue of its works of the 
second and third order, be incomparably richer than India 
in products of artistic genius. In architecture alone can 
India put forward a really plausible claim to equalitj', and 
then not with Europe as a whole, but rather with a single 
region or a single school. If it be said that the confronta- 
tion is not fair, inasmuch as it pits a country against a con- 
tinent, I reply, firstly, that it is not I, but the India-worship- 
pers who challenge the comparison, secondly, that India is 
as large and populous as all Western Europe, and is never 
tired of asserting the greater antiquity of her civilization. 

What is the inmost secret, when all is said and done, of 
the radical inferiority of Indian art? Does it not lie in the 
almost total lack of strong and individual human character.'' 
Why have the Indian epics taken no hold upon the imagina- 
tion of the world at large.'' Simply because Rama and Sita 
and Lakshman, Arjuna and Yudishthira, Drona and Kama, 
Kunti and Draupadi, are not human beings, but clockwork 
idols, moving in an atmosphere of magic. It is by devotion 
that they are endowed with a semblance of life for their 


Indian worshippers. For those who cannot approach them 
with devotion, they do not live at all. And this lack of hu- 
man individuality is curiously manifest in the types assigned 
to them in painting and sculpture. Nothing can be more 
insipid and characterless than the epic heroes as represented 
whether in ancient or in modem art.* It is wonderful, as I 
have already remarked, how hieratic convention has suc- 
ceeded in blinding Indian artists to the splendid types of 
humanity they see every day around them. 

If we compare classic antiquity with Indian antiquity, 
is it not manifest that the fundamental difference lies in 
the wealth of the one, the poverty of the other, in individual 
human character, mythic and historical? Greek epic and 
drama is one glorious pageant of strong individualities ; 
Greek and Roman history is so obviously a battleground of 
great men, that liistorians have often neglected to look be- 
hind the protagonists, and study the social and economic 
forces they represented; Greek and Roman sculpture, even 
in its ideal aspects, pre-supposes a profound knowledge of 
reality, and has, moreover, left us such abundant treasures 
of consummate portraiture that the statesmen and generals 
of antiquity, from Pericles to the Antonines, are almost as 
familiar to us as the celebrities of our own age. What a 
contrast is presented by the corresponding period in India! 
The heroes of epic and drama are shadowy and conventional 
when they are not monstrous ; and as for the leading figures 
of real life, only a few of them are known to us even by 
name, not one by portraiture. To the splendid procession 
of Greek and Roman worthies, we can only oppose a sha- 

* Note, for instance, the smooth pretti-prcttiness of the heroic types 
in the otherwise charming illustrations provided by the Tagore school 
of art for the Myths of the Hindus and Buddhists. Abanindro Xath 
Tagore himself gives his "Buddha as Mendicant" great nobiUty of char- 
acter — but the type is European. 



dowy Chandragupta, an Asoka to be laboriously reconstruc- 
ted from his graven edicts, a vague Kanishka and Vikrama- 
ditja. It may be said that there must have been strong 
men in India, as elsewhere, but that it was not the habit of 
the people to write liistories or can'e portraits. They are 
empty names to us, "carent quia vate sacro." But why was 
history not written? Why was portraiture neglected? 

A complete answer to these questions would be a complete 
psychology of the Indian people. Briefly, I think we must 
attribute the facts to the general undervaluing in religion 
and philosophy of will and endeavour. Life was conceived 
as a shoreless expanse in which generations rose and fell as 
helplessly and purposely as waves in mid-ocean. Passiv- 
ity, detachment, the inhibition of will, was the summit alike 
of wisdom and virtue. Men had to be argued into activity, 
as Krishna, in the Bhagavat-Gita, exhorts Arjuna not to 
take the doctrine of detachment too literallj'. Virtue, much 
talked of, consisted in ceremonial observances and obedience 
to the rules of caste. Energy, strenuousness, were of no 
avail; for since life, by hypothesis, was not worth living, to 
labour for its betterment was futile, if not impious. Kings, 
indeed, were flattered and adulated; but even a king was 
only, as it were, a foam-fleck on the crest of a wave, conspic- 
uous for a moment, but with many obscure existences behind 
him, and manv others, no doubt, awaiting him in the future. 
Thus the individual life was in every way dwarfed and de- 
preciated, the cultivation of individual character discour- 
aged, and its recognition impeded. Something like this, I 
conceive, must be our explanation of the amazing lack of 
character in Indian history and art. It may almost be said 
that, down to the coming of the Moguls, India had con- 
tributed only one great character, Gautama Buddha, to the 
world's pantheon — and he, perhaps, never existed. If a 


claim bo put in for Asoka, it may possibly be allowed; but, 
after all, how featureless he is ! 

And when we pass from antiquity to medieval and modern 
times, is not the contrast almost as striking? European his- 
tory, literature and art swarm, above everything, with great 
characters. Where are the Indian Charlemagne and Alfred, 
Columbus and Luther, Cromwell, Richelieu and Napoleon? 
Against a score of such master spirits, India may advance 
one figure who certainly stands in the front rank of historic 
rulers : the great, the enlightened, the truly heroic Akbar — 
grandson of a Tartar conqueror. After him came a few 
individualities of the second rank — the romantic voluptuary 
Shah Jahan, the tragic zealot Aurungzcb, Sivaji, the typi- 
cal Maratha chief, Hyder Ali, the daring adventurer, and 
perhaps a dozen other men of notable political or military 
talent. But when we have named the Buddha and the Ak- 
bar, we have exhausted the list of supreme personalities 
whom India has given to history. 

As for fictitious characters — and they indicate the genius 
of a race almost as clearly as real personages — where are 
we to look for the Indian Hamlet or FalstafF, Shylock or 
Lear, the Indian Quixote, the Indian Alceste or Tartuffc, 
Don Juan, Mcphistophelcs or Peer Gynt? Or if, again, we 
turn to the portrayal of character in colour, is it possible 
for a moment to compare the charming miniature portraits 
of the Mogad period with tiie superb records of conunanding 
personalities left by Raphael, Titian, Velasquez, Holbein, 
Rembrandt, Vandyke, Reynolds and a host of other Euro- 
pean artists? At whatever point we institute a comparison, 
we find India deficient in the record, at any rate, of strong, 
energetic, dominant personality. However imperfect may 
be our analysis of the causes of this depression of will and 
energy, the fact can scarcely be contested; and India would 
do well to realize and reflect upon it. 




There remains one art of which nothing has yet been said, 
and of which, in the absence of technical knowledge, I can 
at best speak vaguely. There is an undeniable and pene- 
trating charm about Indian music. The fine artists, whom 
I have been so fortunate as to hear, can produce delightful 
effects from their very picturesque stringed instruments — 
ciihar, sarangi and lina. I was especially struck with the 
way in which they could make the strings almost literally 
speak, coaxing from them plaintive utterances which, with 
one's eyes shut, one could almost believe to proceed from the 
himian voice. The pieces I heard appeared to me to be com- 
posed of fragments of melody akin to the folk-songs of Eu- 
rope, but developed on wholly different rhythmic princi- 
ples. I have not the least doubt that Indian music is a most 
interesting, highly-subtihzed and elaborated science, though 
on some of the claims put forward on its behalf — such as 
the power of painting landscapes, which can be quite defi- 
nitely visualized by the initiated — one may beg leave to 
maintain an attitude of suspended judgment. I very sin- 
cerely take on trust a great many refinements and excel- 
lences which cannot be fuUy apprehended without a special 
education: just as I take on trust the verbal beauties both 
of Sanskrit and of vernacular poetrj'. Yet in music, it 
seems to me, we have the final, irrefragable proof that the 
Western mind has decisively outgrown the Eastern, has 
embraced a wider range of experience, and touched greater 
heights and — I do not hesitate to say— deeper depths of 
thought. Once more, it is a mere denial of all sense of pro- 
portion to institute any serious comparison between the two 
forms of art — to place the delicate tinkhngs of Indian melo- 
dy beside the titanic harmonies of Handel and Haydn, 
Beethoven and Wagner. The triumplis of imagination 


which the epic poets sought to attain by force of hyper- 
bolical arithmetic ; the miracles of intuition which the sages 
hoped to achieve by yoga; these, and far greater triumphs 
and miracles, are nightly compassed in the European con- 
cert-room, by the mightiest rishis the world ever saw, through 
the medium of that divinest of human inventions, the mod- 
em orchestra. It is very possible that Indian music has del- 
icacies and exquisitenesses which escape our grosser ears ; but 
it is, I suggest, absolutely impossible that the little threads 
of sound plucked daintily out of the citliar or vina can be- 
token any approacli to the grasp of mind that weaves, from a 
thousand filaments of jjatssion, and wonder, and ecstasy and 
despair, the celestial tissues of the European symphony. 

I unfeignedly regret, in conclusion, the controversial and 
even depreciatory tone of this chapter. Had it been written 
twenty years ago, its tenor would have been very different. 
One could then have dwelt with warm appreciation on the 
numberless beauties of Indian art; one could have noted, 
without insistence, its obvious defects of exaggeration, ex- 
cess and monstrosity, and one need not have embarked upon 
disobliging and quite unnecessary comparisons. The intelli- 
gent Indian has undoubtedly a great deal to be proud of in 
the artistic past of his country. Even its barbarisms are 
magnificent, wliile its sane achievements are often of ex- 
quisite, sometimes of unique, beauty. Far be it from me to 
deny that India is, from the artistic point of view, one of 
the most interesting countries in the world. Her art con- 
tributed potently to the spell she cast upon me, but for 
which tliis book would never have been written. But when the 
intelligent Indian is assured that, in almost every branch of 
artistic activity, his country, by express favour of the gods, 
stands supreme over all the world, one can only advise him, 
in his own interest, not to believe it. That way lies — well, 
not sanity; and sanity is essential to India's salvation. 




Neveh-exding are the discussions as to what India ought 
to leam, and how that knowledge should be imparted to her. 
But it is much more vital to ascertain what India will con- 
sent to unlearn. Upon the answer to that question her 
future depends. 

Someone- — is it Sir Alfred Lj-all?- — tells of an Indian who 
was thoroughly versed in the mathematics of astronomy, and 
could calculate eclipses many j'ears ahead, but who con- 
fessed that he still believed, and should teach his son, that 
eclipses were caused by a dog eating the moon. Nothing 
could be more characteristic* Indians have an amazing 
capacity for learning, and for ignoring the consequences 
of what they learn. They will admit that, for the outer 
world, two and two make four, but they pin their actual 
faith to the sages of old whose subtler genius assured them 
that two and two made five. Not till India has unlearnt 
this habit of mind will the day of her true greatness dawn. 

Many people hold that the worst error of our rule has 
been the effort to substitute European for Oriental educa- 
tion. This I cannot believe. Our error — our inevitable 
error, since we knew no better — lay in introducing bad 
education instead of good. We gave what we had, and it 

* "A schoolmaster once tried to convince his pupils that the earth 
goes round the sun. 'Now, do you believe it?' he asked. 'Yes, as long 
as we are in the class-room.' " James Kennedy, I.C.S., in A»iatie 
Quarterly Review, October, 1910. 


was better than nothing; but it was not wliat the situation 
really wanted. James Damiesteter put the case accurately, 
a quarter of a century ago, in his Lettres sur VInde, when 
he said that the instruction given by England to India was 
"superficial and empty, not of set political purpose, but 
because European instruction in general, and English in 
particular, was itself superficial and empty." 

It is the fasliion to denounce Macaulay as the evil genius 
of Indian education, because he turned the scale in favour 
of European matter and methods. Let us see what was 
the actual character of his intei-\'ention. 

Macaulay's Minute. 

A clause in the Charter Act of 1813 empowered the 
Governor-General in Council to apply one lakh of rupees 
a year "to the revival and improvement of literature and 
the encouragement of the learned natives of India, and for 
the introduction and promotion of a knowledge of the 
sciences among the inhabitants of the British territories in 
India." On the face of it, this is a grant for the promotion 
of Eastern literature and Western science; and at first the 
money was used in the payment of stipends to students of 
Oriental subjects. It does not appear that the teaching of 
science Avas seriously attempted — perhaps because it pre- 
supposed on the student's part a knowledge of English, or 
some other European tongue. But by 1835, when Macau- 
lay was Chairman of the Committee of Public Instruction, 
it became evident that a great development of education 
was impending, and a lively controversy arose as to whether 
it should be predominantly Eastern in its substance and 
methods, or predominantly Western. The Orientalizers iiad 
on their side tiie plain meaning of the words of the Cliartcr; 
but Macaulay was not the man to let the literal intcrprcta- 



tion of a document stand in the way of what he considered 
common sense and sound policy. As his famous Minute is 
not very easily accessible, I may quote some of its most 
characteristic passages : 

I never found one among [the Orientalists] who could deny 
that a single shelf of a good European library was worth the 
whole native literature of India and Arabia. . . . 

The question now before us is simply whether, when it is in our 
power to teach [English] we shall teach languages in which, by 
universal confession, there are no books on any subject which de- 
serve to be compared with our own; whether, when we can teach 
European science, we shall teach systems which, by universal con- 
fession, whenever they differ from those of Europe, differ for the 
worse ; and whether, when we can patronize sound Philosophy and 
true History, we shall countenance, at the public expense, medi- 
cal doctrines which would disgrace an English farrier — Astron- 
omy which would move laughter in the girls at an English board- 
ing-school — History abounding with kings thirty feet high and 
reigns thirty thousand years long — and Geography made up of 
seas of treacle and seas of butter. . . . 

We are forced to pay our Arabic and Sanskrit students, while 
those who learn English are willing to pay us. . . . 

It is confessed that a language is barren of useful knowledge. 
We are told to teach it because it is fruitful of monstrous super- 
stitions. We are to teach false history, false astronomy, false 
medicine, because we find them in company with false religion. 

There are faults of excess and faults of emphasis in this 
pronouncement ; but it is absurd to talk of the mischief 
wrought by Macaulay's "blighting rhetoric." Such lan- 
guage can be held only by those who think that England 
ought to have perpetuated her empire in India by keeping 
the people entirely ignorant of Western political ideas. 
Even supposing that this would have been desirable (which 



I ido not believe) it would certainly have been impossible, 
Not in India alone, but all the world over, the day of the 
ring-fence is for ever past. We might have hindered the 
percolation of ideas ; we could not have prevented it. For 
the material development of the country, by means of the 
railroad and the telegraph, a lingua-fraiica was indispen- 
sable; and if some other language than English (say Hindu- 
stani) had been chosen for the purpose. Western books 
would have been translated into that language, and discon- 
tent would have spread just as surely, though we should 
probably have known less about it. The people who 
denounce Macaulay are logically bound to go a step further, 
and maintain that the railway, the telegraph and the manu- 
factory ought to have been excluded from India, wliich 
should have remained a patch of the Middle Ages in the 
midst of the modern world — a region where time stood still. 
I am not aware that any of them has explicitly advanced so 
impossible a theory ; but it seems to be implicit in such a 
passage as the following from Meredith Townsend's Asia in 
Europe. Mr. Townsend tells us that he was one of those 
who, in the 'fifties, "bestirred themselves to resist Macau- 
lay's ideas." 

They maintained that true instruction would never be gained 
by an Oriental jjeople throufih a Western language, that educa- 
tion in English would be productive of notliing but a caste, who, 
like the "scholars" of the Middle Ages, would be content with 
their own superiority, and would be more separated from the 
people than if they had been left uneducated: that, in short, Eng- 
lish education, however far it might be pushed, would remain 
sterile. They pressed for the encouragement and development of 
indigenous culture, and would have had High Schools and Uni- 
versities, in which men studied, first of all, to perfect the lan- 
guages and literature and knowledge of their own land. They 



fought hard, but they failed utterly, and we have the Babu, in- 
stead of the thoroughly instructed Pundit.* 

It is true that we have the Babu, to carry out a thousand 
duties of civilization for which the Pundit would have been 
unfit, even if he would have condescended to them. We also 
have (a more doubtful blessing) the vakil or pleader; and 
we have the "failed B.A.," and the successful B.A. who 
feels himself cruelly wronged because Government does not 
provide for him the comfortable post to which he thinks he 
is entitled. English education has had many drawbacks, 
some of them inevitable, some of them arising from defects 
in our very idea of education. But who can doubt that in 
the main Macaulay was right ? He may even be said to have 
"builded better than he knew;" for he laid the foundation 
of a united India, capable — unless it deliberately misuses its 
opportunities — of taking its place among the great nations 
of the world. It is never the intelligent Indian who doubts 
the benefits of English education. He may resent Macau- 

* The sort of instruction which would have held the field had these 
views prevailed may be estimated from Deussen's account of his visit 
to the Sanskrit College, at Benares, in 1895: "The various sciences, 
grammar, law, philosophy, even astronomy and medicine, are here taught 
in accordance with the ancient native handbooks. The absolute depend- 
ence upon Indian antiquity, the solution of every dispute by a reference 
to the ancient authorities, as well as the discussions of their axioms, 
remind one strongly of medieval teaching in Europe. Equally medieval 
is the strict adherence to all sorts of superstitions which both limit and 
dominate the ideas of learned and intellectual men in a most extraordi- 
nary manner." My Indian Reminiscences, p. 157. At Madhura Deussen 
met a pundit who "was a medical man, i.e., he had studied the Ayurveda 
and had an extensive practice in the neighbourhood. "^Vhat is fever?' 
I asked him. 'Fever,' he replied, 'is a false mixture of three of the 
juices of the body, wind, mucus, and bile.' 'And how do you cure it?' 
Here he glibly rattled off a terrific list of drugs, which, after having been 
pounded and mixed, were to be administered to the patient." "Ayurvedic 
remedies" are popular and widely advertised in India. 


lay's language, but the justice of his conclusion he knows to 
be beyond dispute. The only rational objector to English 
education is he who holds (as Lord Ellenborough held a 
century ago) that it endangers the eternity of English rule. 
That it certainly docs ; but if England desired to hold for 
ever an empire founded on ignorance and mental stagnation, 
one could only say, "the less England she." 


It was not until 1854i that Macaulay's Minute took full 
effect, and the existing educational machinery was set in 
motion. After sixty years have passed, we find that 
(roughly speaking) "rather more than one male in ten and 
one female in a hundred can read and write; less than one 
male in a hundred and one female in a thousand can read 
and write English." 

It is estimated that, in all, about one million Indians 
have some knowledge of our language. Many of them, net 
doubt, speak and write it very badly; but the amazing 
thing, as I have already noted, is that thousands of them 
have mastered it to absolute perfection. Macaulay, in- 
deed, when he wrote his Minute, was probably influenced 
by his observation of the extraordinary hnguistic faculty 
so common in India. "It is unusual," he writes, "to find, 
even in the literary circles of the Continent, any foreigner 
who can express himself in English with so much facility 
and correctness as many Hindus." I had made the same 
remark a hundred times before I came across it in the 
Minute of 1835. 

In the decade of 1902-12 the total number of educational 
institutions in India increased from about 148,500 to about 
176,600, and the number of pupils from 4,530,000 to 
6,796,000. The total number of boys under instruction 



rose from 4,084,000 to 5,841,000, or by 43 per cent., and 
the total number of girls from 446,000 to 955,000, or by 
114 per cent. These are at first sight large figures ; but 
they mean that, after a decade of steady increase, only 
29 per cent, of boys of school-going age, and 5 per cent, of 
girls, were receiving any sort of instruction. The total 
expenditure on education had risen during the decade from 
£2,681,670 to £5,256,223. About half of this expenditure 
is met by Government, or by municipalities or local boards. 
About a quarter is covered by fees,* and the remainder by 
endowments and subscriptions. "t 

The Next Move: Vernacular Education. 

"In one point," said Macaulay in 1835, "I fuUy agree 
with the gentlemen to whose general views I am opposed. 
I feel with them that it is impossible for us, with our limited 
means, to attempt to educate the body of the people. We 
must at present do our best to educate a class who may 
be interpreters between us and the millions whom we gov- 
ern." In that we have succeeded; and we now cry out, 
not without reason, that the intermediary class do not 
interpret us wisely or fairly. Yet we are preparing, with 
sublime inconsistency, to multiply tenfold the possible 
readers of the vernacular press ; for the day of universal 
education is rapidly approaching. What was impossible in 
1835 will in all probabdity be an accomplished fact in 

* It is stated that the unwillingness of even the well-to-do classes to 
pay reasonable fees for their children's schooling seriously retards the 
progress of education. 

t The above figures are taken from the Statement exhibiting the Moral 
and 'Material Progress and Condition of India, 1911-12. In 1915-16 the 
number of scholars in all institutions was 7,617,496, of whom 5,871,184 
males and 1,112,024 females were in public institutions. The total ex- 
penditure on education was in that year £7,338,800. 


1935. Mr. Gokhale has drafted a bill by which free and 
compulsory education would, with all reasonable celerity, be 
established throughout British India; and though the Gov- 
ernment, for financial and other reasons, cannot accept that 
measure, it stands committed to the principle that lies be- 
hind it. In a Resolution issued at Delhi on February 21, 
1913, we read: "The propositions that illiteracy must be 
broken down, and that primary education has, in the pres- 
ent circumstances of India, a predominant claim upon the 
public funds, represent accepted pohcy no longer open to 
discussion." And again: "It is the desire and hope of the 
Government of India to see in the not distant future some 
91,000 private schools added to the 100,000 wliich already 
exist for boys, and to double the 4I/2 miUions of pupils 
who now receive instruction in them." And j'et again : 
"The Government of India hope that the time is not far 
distant when educational buildings will be distinguished as 
the most modem and commodious buildings in the locality, 
and scholars in India will have the advantage in this 
respect of scholars in the West." Critics of the Govern- 
ment, European as well as Indian, hold that this insistence 
on buildings merely delays progress. "What ought to 
haj^ijen," says Sir F. S. V. Lely,* "is that the department 
should assign a master and staff to every village where the 
people undertake to provide a house. . . . The villagers, 
if left to themselves, could provide a house at a fraction of 
what the Government department has to pay . . . the 
Deputy Inspector having no word in the matter, unless only 
he found the conditions insanitary." It is not necessary for 
me to take a side in the discussion, though I think there 
is something to be said for the Government view, that 
"the influence for good of clean and well-arranged build- 

* Suggestions for the Better Qoverning of India, 1906. 



ings,* with the concomitant domestic discipUne, can 
scarcely be exaggerated." The essential fact is that a 
great movement in the direction of vernacular education 
is formally promised, and that the rooting out of illiteracy 
is only a matter of time — perhaps of no very long time. 

Surely not without reason have I called it a sublime 
inconsistency-, which, in one breath, complains of the results 
of the education already given, and proposes to extend it 
to the scores of millions as yet untouched by it. On the 
theory of never-ending empire — the official theory — it is 
nothing short of madness. If a little knowledge of English 
has begotten the agitator and the anarchist, is it not clear 
that a widespread abihty to read the vernacular languages 
will enormously increase the influence of the makers of 
political mischief.'' It may be said, no doubt, that it is in 
the sheer ignorance of the people that the mischief-makers 
find their strength. That is true; but ignorance, in this 
sense, will not be corrected by the mere ability to read and 
write. If vernacular education means no more than that — 
if we are not prepared to impart something more than the 
power of reading seditious newspapers — then vernacular 
education cannot but enormously increase the difficulty of 
maintaining our hold upon India. The fact that we blithely 
proclaim the extinction of illiteracy as a policy "no longer 
open to discussion" seems to me to prove at once an im- 
mensity of honest good-will and an incapacity for clear 
and consistent thinking. Anything less Machiavellian than 
our conduct in this whole matter of education it would be 

* In every Japanese village the school-house is the largest and most 
prominent structure — a fact which certainly enhances the prestige of 
education in the eyes of the people. I could not but remember this when, 
looking into a village school near Poona, during the mid-day interval, 
I found it an absolutely bare hovel, the earthen floor of which an old 
woman was busily daubing with cow-dung. 


hard to conceive. We do our immediate duty according to 
our lights, and we let the consequences take care of them- 

Anglo-literary Training. 

The problem is enormously difficult, for two main 
reasons: first (as James Darmesteter points out), because 
we have not ourselves developed a rational system of edu- 
cation; second, because a rational system of education 
would be resented and resisted by the people wliom we pro- 
pose to teach. How are we to get round tliis complication 
of difficulties? Our only chance, it seems to me, is clearly 
to realize the conditions of the problem, and to call in the 
best Indian intelligence to help us in solving it. This is 
as much as to say that we must frankly and sincerely admit 
our object to be, not to make Indians Enghshmen, or even 
citizens of the British Empire, but to make them compe- 
tent, clear-sighted citizens of their own country. Hitherto, 
for the vast majority of Indians, India has not existed in 
the real world, but in a world of myth, nightmai-e, and vain 
imagination. Only by the aid of her own finer spirits can 
she be brought down from this cloud-cuckooland and 
anchored on the solid earth. And only by a frank recogni- 
tion of her right to self-government as soon as she is ready 
for it can the co-operation of her finer spirits be secured. 

It is commonly said that the education we have hitherto 
given India errs in being too literary. That is true enough ; 
but it would be equally true, and would come nearer the 
heart of the matter, to say that it is too English. Our aim 
has been to make of Indians pseudo-Englislinien ; and it 
must be owned that in this endeavour we have attained 
remarkable success. To their great linguistic gifts Indians 
add a tenacious verbal memory whicii enables them to 
master what may be called the catchwords of culture. 



There are hundreds of Indians who write quite as good 
English as the average British journahst, and betray their 
foreignness only in their excessive fondness for quotations 
and ready-made phrases. "Babu Enghsh" is the ridicu- 
lous aspect of this characteristic — the English of a man 
who has stuffed his head with idioms and stereotypes which 
he pours forth without any sense of fitness, as in the case 
of the man who announced his mother's death in these terms : 
"The hand that rocked the cradle has kicked the bucket." 
But "Babu English" is really a rare phenomenon.* The 
educated Indian generally uses his quotations and tags with 
perfect appropriateness, if only he would be a little more 
sparing of them. 

It may have seemed for a brief moment, some tliirty or 
forty years ago, as though this gradual Anglicization of 
India were destined to solve the problem of her spiritual 
future. Religious and social reforms appeared to be 
gradually following in the track of literary education, and 
such an institution as the Brahmo Samaj, with its eclectic 
unitarianism, may have seemed full of promise. But it 
was very soon evident that this apparently mar\'ellous 

* Perhaps commoner in practice than "Babu English" is the expression 
of sentiments which seem all the more quaint for being couched in irre- 
proachable language. I have before me a tj'jje-written letter from an 
Indian official to his European superior, complaining that some charitable 
work he has undertaken has been misinterpreted, and has got him into 
trouble with his compatriots. "After all," he writes, "I took up the 
work as it was of public charity, and therefore. His [God's] work, and 
also the work which interested Government, whose servant I am. It 
was my ambition to please Him as well as yourself. His verdict we may 
not know. As for your appreciation, I might as well get it by a small 
private testimonial." Here is a not very luminous passage from notes 
on a law-suit under revision. "The issues first and second though they 
contain automatic points in their latter and former portions respectively, 
yet the objects which they hide in themselves apply mutatis mutandis, 
differentially to the statements of the parties." 



receptivity and adaptability was a surface phenomenon of 
small significance. The Indians who became effectually 
Anglicized lost touch with their own countrymen, and car- 
ried with them no real following. The genuine outcome of 
our literary education — our training in ]\Iilton and Byron 
and Shelley, in Burke, Mill, Macaulay and Spencer — was the 
dissemination of democratic ideals, invectives against 
tyranny, and violently partisan views of the historical 
relations between England and India. All this is perfectly 
natural, and might have been foreseen. You cannot teach 
the subjects of an alien autocracy to declaim about: 

"Some village Hampden th^t with dauntless breast 
The little tyrant of his fields withstood," 

and expect them to refrain from making any personal 
application of the lines. What was less easy to foresee was 
the recrudescence of aggressive Hinduism, or in other words, 
of anti-rationalism, which has followed upon the spread of 
Anglo-literary education. This is, in my view, the really 
disquieting and baffling feature of the situation. One thing, 
at all events, that has not resulted from our well-meant 
educational efforts is any wide dissemination of political 
or spiritual wisdom. How was it to bo expected that India 
should greatly profit by a course of irrelevant, or, at any 
rate, premature, politics, unsifted history, and poetry 
which, to Eastern learners, could at best be little more than 
half-understood rhetoric? 

Let me give one or two instances of what I mean by 
Anglo-literary education. I once visited a High School for 
Girls, very well conducted by an English head-mistress. 
The physical drill and teaching of household occupations 
seemed to me excellent; it was in the class-room devoted 
to geography and history that my doubts were aroused by 



two maps displayed on the walls, and pointed out, with 
no little pride, as the work of the girls themselves. One 
was a map of England, in which the principal products 
of the chief towns were shown by means of objects attached 
at the appropriate spots. Thus a toy motor-car indicated 
Coventry, a ship, Liverpool, a knife, Sheffield, a scrap of 
woollen cloth, Bradford, and so forth. In this there was 
no harm, if one had felt sure that the local products of 
India had been illustrated with similar care; but one or two 
maps of India, exhibited at the same time, showed no such 
elaboration of detail.* 

The second map to which my attention was called be- 
longed to the historical department. The reader would 
s"^rcely guess its subject, if he were to think for a year of 
the unlikeliest theme to propose to a class of Indian girls. 
It was a plan of the battlefield of Agincourt, showing the 
positions of the contending forces ! The details of the 
battle of Agincourt may be of great interest from a strate- 
gic point of view, or from the point of view of a somewhat 
narrow British patriotism; but what have Indian girls to 
do with either strategy or the quarrels of the Plantagenets ? 

It was again at a girls' school (this time under Indian 
control) that I came across an amusing example of the 
value of literary education specifically so called. A show 
pupil of fourteen or thereabouts (a married woman, by the 
way), was told to recite Thomas Moore's verses, very 
popular, I believe, in India, entitled "Those Evening Bells." 
In order that I might follow with understanding, the text 
had been written out, and was handed to me by the head- 

* A schoolboy, it is stated, if asked to enumerate the watering-places 
on the south coast of England, will rattle oflf "Folkestone, Hastings," 
etc., with great volubility, but will be nonplussed if you ask him the 
meaning of "watering-place." 


mistress. The reciter, however, spoke quite comprehcn- 
sibl}', and I was surprised to hear her say : 

"And so 'twill be when I am gone. 
That tuneful peal will still ring on, 
When other birds shall walk these dells. 
And sing your praise, sweet evening bells." 

I turned to the written copy and found that she had 
followed it exactly. The true text, of course, is : 

"When other bards shall walk these dells ;" 

but "birds'' made quite good enough sense both for the 
pupil and for the teacher. In India, by the way, the art 
of recitation is generally understood to mean suiting the 
action to the word in such detail that every line shall be 
illustrated bj' at least one appropriate gesture. If you 
talk of your heart you must clutch your left breast : if you 
allude to your eyes, you must point to these organs. I 
remember hearing a boy recite, "Break, break, break," and 
accompany it with a whole gymnastic of gesticulation. At 
the lines: 

"And the stately ship goes past 
To its haven under the hill," 

he shaded his eyes and assumed the attitude of an old coast- 
guardsman scanning a sail on the horizon. At 

"But, oh, for the touch of a vanished hand," 

he brandished a very visible paw : and at 

"The sound of a voice that is still" 

he pointed downwards with a significant flourish. Implying, 
to the European mind, the gloomiest conjecture as to the 
present location of the owner of the voice. On the other 



hand, I have seen Indian schoolboys go through the Trial 
Scene in The Merchant of Venice with excellent discretion. 

■ The Arya Samaj. 

Whatever the successes or failures of Anglo-literary edu- 
cation, it has at least done one indispensable service in 
making the basis of instruction (theoretically, at any rate) 
an appeal to reason, in place of the Oriental appeal to sheer 
authority, of which something has already been said in 
Chapter IV. "The traditional idea of education in India," 
sa3's Mr. S. M. Mitra, "is based on reverence for the teacher 
(guru) whose word was law, and who was almost worshipped 
by his pupils (chelas)." Such an ideal was natural enough 
so long as all knowledge was held to be stored up in the 
past, and thought was conceived as a mere pouring of the 
mind into ready-made moulds, or at best as the ability to 
perform certain prescribed feats on a mental flying-trapeze. 
When European Hinduizers speak with awe of the culture 
imparted at the "universities" of ancient India, I cannot 
but think of the University of Cairo as it exists to-day, 
and of the great mosques in which hundreds of j'oung men 
are squatted on the floor, rocking themselves to and fro 
hour after hour, day after day, year after year, while, with 
closed eyes and muttering lips, they memorize the Koran. 
No doubt the Indian ffurus sometimes inculcated the doc- 
trine of subtler thinkers than Muhammad; but the whole 
conception of education as the reverential acceptance of a 
set of sacred texts and glosses is fitted only for a static 
world which never existed in fact, and has ceased to exist 
even in theory'. There is too much reliance on authority, 
too much mechanical memorizing, in Western systems of 
education; but their aim, their ideal, is to make the pupil 
think for himself, and accept a formula only when he has 


tested it and found it work. The West has at any rate pro- 
ceeded some way towards the realization that the true 
teacher ought not to strangle, but rather to stimulate, the 
critical, the questioning instinct in his pupil. It is clear 
that this must also be the ideal of Indian education if India 
is to develop her character and make the best of her 
intelligence. The relation of guru and chela, in so far as 
it suri'ives, is a thing to be discouraged and finally eradi- 
cated. In the modem world, intellectual idolatry is as 
much out of place as religious idolatry. 

It is for this reason that I look with hesitation upon the 
work of the Arya Samaj, a reforming body of great and 
growing influence in Northern India. It numbers nearly a 
quarter of a million adherents, conducts numerous schools, 
and has two great educational centres, the Dayanand Anglo- 
Vedic College at Lahore, and the Gurukula near Hardwar, 
the sacred spot where tlie Ganges flows out from the foot- 
hills of the Himalayas. The Lahore College takes it^ 
name from the founder of the sect, Swami Dayanand 
Saraswati (1 824:-! 883), called by his followers "the Luther 
of India." He was a Brahmin from Kathiawar, who broke 
away from his caste and preached a doctrine of which the 
watchword was "Back to the Vedas." Idol-worship, pil- 
grimages, child-marriage, enforced widowhood, even caste 
itself, Dayanand rejected. He rejected the name "Hindu," 
which he held to be originally a Muslim term of contempt. 
"Arj-a" he declared to be the onh' name that ought to be 
acknowledged by adherents of the Vedic religion. He made 
a principle of proselytisni, which is to tiie orthodox HindJ 
an impossibility, inasmuch as Hinduism is not a result 
of conviction but a privilege of birth. He even "gave prac- 
tical proof of liis moral courage by publicly reclaiming 
Hindu converts to Islam." 

I have visited both the Lahore and tiie Hardwar Colleges, 



and have been greatly struck by the earnest spirit in which 
their work is conducted. Lala Hans Raj, the late Principal 
of the Anglo-Vedic College, and Mahatma Munshi Ram, 
the present Principal of the Gurukula, will alwaj's rank in 
my recollection among the most impressive figures I met in 
India — which is saying a great deal. Their splendid 
physique, and the grave dignity and urbanity of their man- 
ners, made them seem, in everything but years — for neither 
is more than middle-aged — ideal t}-pes of the Eastern sage. 
The Gurukula, which represents a different shade of hetero- 
doxy from that of the Anglo-Vedic College, is animated by 
a spirit of cloistral austerity. It is situated on the eastern 
bank of the Ganges, four branches* of which divide it from 
the pilgrim-haunted Hardwar. This seclusion is chosen on 
purpose that the three hundred pupils may be as remote as 
possible from evil influences — "especially those of the home." 
Pupils are received at the age of seven and do not pass 
out of the college until they are twenty-four. They never 
go "home for the holidays," and intercourse with their 
parents is severely restricted. They rise at four in the 
morning, and bathe either in the Ganges or in the long 
bathing-sheds of the College. They do their own menial 
work and wait upon each other at meals. Hindi is the 
usual medium of instruction, but Western philosophy and 
science are taught in English. Sanskrit, of course, bulks 
large in the curriculum, and cricket, football, and hockey 
are played in that language. Fire — the god Agni of the 
Veda^ — is prominent in both public and private acts of 
worship; but I was assured that it was regarded, not idol- 
atrously, but as a symbol of purification. It chanced that 
when I arrived at the College, the Principal was kneeling 

* I crossed one of these streams on a raft of kerosene-tins, another 
by ferry-boat, the third on a bridge of boats, and the fourth on horse- 



on the verandah of his bungalow, facing a red sunset over 
the green Ganges, and absorbed in prayer, while a tongue 
of spirit-flame wavered aloft from a brazen crucible placed 
on the ground before him. Assuredly, I never saw a more 
impressive act of devotion. 

The Arya Samaj is regarded with suspicion by the 
authorities, on account of its supposed seditious tendencies. 
Several of its adherents, in conversation with me, ener- 
getically repudiated this suspicion. "We depend for our 
very existence," they said, "on the Britisli Government. 
The orthodox Hindus hate us, the Muhammadans hate us, 
the Christians hate us. We are encircled by enemies: in 
the British Government lies our sole security: why should 
we dream of oversetting it.*"' And again, "One may be 
loyal to the King-Emperor and the great officers of the 
Government without being loAal to every policeman." And 
yet again : "By their fruits ye shall know them. There are 
no Aryas in Bengal, and outrages occur in Bengal. There 
are no Aryas in Bombay, and outrages occur in Bombay. 
In the Punjab the Arya Samaj is powerful, and there are 
no outrages in the Punjab." 

This reasoning is specious and no doubt sincere. The 
wiser spirits of the Arya Samaj realize that British rule 
gives India her best chance of moral and intellectual re- 
generation. It was Mahatma Munshi Ram himself who 
wrote (in the Ch'il and Military Gazette) : 

If any insane persons have for one moment thought that the 
Hindus of the present day — the great majority of whom are de- 
graded, hypocritical and base — are fit for governing the country, 
and have preached sedition in their madness, surely the teachings 
of the great apostle of Vaidic Dharma cannot be held responsible. 

A teacher holding these views is not likely to work for 
a premature overthrow of the British power. But it must 



not be supposed that the missionaries who go forth from 
the Gumkula — and its pupils are being expressly educated 
for missionary work— will preach the doctrine of eternal 
subser\'ience to alien mastery. If it be sedition to work 
towards the ultimate fitness of India to control her own 
destinies, then is the Arya Samaj, bej^ond all doubt, a 
potent instrument of sedition. 

It maj' appear, then, as if this body were carrying out 
a scheme of education exactly consonant with the ideas 
I am trying to set forth. Perhaps it comes, in fact, as 
near to enlightenment as can reasonably be expected. But 
its idolatry of the Vedas is a huge set-off to its many merits. 
How can an education based on so outrageous an excess of 
authority-worship fit men for rational action in the real 

Swami Dayanand, it is true, rejected as apocryphal the 
Brahmanas and Puranas, which orthodox Hinduism accepts, 
in a general way, as revealed ; and in so doing he purified 
the doctrine of his sect. But at the same time, he, as it 
were, concentrated and intensified the claim of the Vedas to 
a superhuman origin. It is impossible to think of God as 
actually the author of a large mass of heterogeneous litera- 
ture having its sources in all sorts of historic circumstances. 
As soon as the heterogeneous nature of the Bible is clearly 
realized, its claim to divine authorship is fatally weakened. 
If inspiration is stiU asserted, it is only in a very attenuated 
sense. So, too, with the diverse and multifarious "sacred 
books" of the Hindus : the inspiration claimed for them was 
not — could not be — very literally understood. But when 
the heterogeneous mass was thrown overboard, and only 
the more or less homogeneous Vedas remained — genuinely 
ancient, and springing from no clearly ascertainable his- 
toric soil — it became possible to imagine them as the actual 
and literal "outbreathings" of the Creator, and to claim 


for them tlie full authority attachiiifr to oracles of God. 
This was the effect of Swami Uayanand's "Back to the 
Vedas" watchword. On this extreme of bibliolatry the 
teachings of the Arya Samaj arc based. 

The Samajists do not fail to make the most of the seem- 
ing detachment of the Vedas from history. It is true that 
the rishis who composed the hymns are in many cases 
named : but this fact is lightly passed over. Here is a 
specimen of Samaj ist argument.* 

Divine revelation must be meant for all men and consequently 
given at the beginning of the creation. The Koran, the Bible, and 
the Puranas are compositions of recent times, and if they are 
Divine Law revealed to man, we must admit that numberless hu- 
man beings were left without any guidance. The Vedas are by 
common consent admitted to be the oldest books in the world's 
library. Other things being equal, there is a greater probability 
of their being the Divine revelation. . . . 

The Koran, the Bible and the Puranas are full of historical 
details. It is unintelligible how such books can be called Divine 
revelations. In historical details, there is no veil that can be 
drawn only by a supernatural agency. The doings of individuals 
and tribes can be noticed and recorded by any man ; but sucli 
records do not deserve to be called a Revelation. The Vedas are 
free from historical details. f 

This is true, in so far tliat the historical events which 
manifestly underlie the Vedic literature have remained un- 

* From The Arya Samaj: Its beliefs, aims, and methods of work, by 
Diwan Chand, M.A., Professor of Philosophy, D..\.V. College, Lahore. 

t The writer proceeds: "The Koran, the Bible and the Puranas are 
full of contradictions, whereas not one contradiction can be pointed out 
in the Vedas. As Science advances the teachings of those other books 
arc discovered to be conflicting with the laws of Nature. The advance 
of Science, on the other hand, furnishes confirmatory evidence in favour 
of the Vedic teachings." Subtle indeed must be the process of thought 
by which the manifest contradictions of the Vedas are explained away 
and the Vedic teachings are brought into harmony with Science. 



recorded; but while we cannot bring the Vedas into definite 
relation with history, it is only too easy to place them in 
their anthropological context, and to see in them not the 
oracles of a God, but the artless utterances of primitive 
men (in some cases highly gifted) personifying and seeking 
to propitiate the powers of Nature. Anything, on the face 
of it, less like a divine revelation it would be difficult to 
conceive. The first condition of a revelation, (as the Sama- 
jist pundit justly observes) is that it shall reveal some- 
thing otherwise unknown; but this condition the Vedas do 
not fulfil. They "reveal" the hunger of primitive man for 
all sorts of worldly advantages — for cattle, for rain, for 
sons, for the destruction of enemies, for long life, etc. — and 
they show his eagerness, in the pursuit of these blessings, 
to make friends with every unseen power he can possibly 
conceive or conjecture. They "reveal" worship and sac- 
rifice as a form of direct bribery, after the fashion of this 
artless invocation to Indra: "Desirous of milking thee like 
a milch cow at pasture, Vasishtha has let loose his prayers 
to thee." They "reveal" the tendency of primitive man to 
ingratiate himself with one god by outbursts of unmeasured 
flattery at the expense of all the rest — the tendency which 
Max Miiller has denominated "henotheism." They "reveal" 
too — but this is infrequent — the perplexities of a reflective 
mind in view of the mystery of existence. But what is 
there in all this that needed to be "revealed?" The hymns 
of the last class* are doubtless the noblest, and are ex- 
*The 129th Hymn of Book X. of the Rig Veda is, as rendered by 
Max Miiller, a remarkable utterance of a sort of agnosticism. It ends 

Who knows the secret? Who proclaimed it here, 
Whence, whence, this manifold creation sprang? 
He from whom all this great creation came, 
Whether his will created or was mute. 
The most high seer that is in highest heaven, 
He knows it, or, perchance, e'en he knows not. 


tremely interesting; but it is surely the business of "revela- 
tion" not to utter perplexities, but to solve them. 

No doubt the Samajists explain away the manifestly 
human and non-divine contents of the Vedas, by processes 
not unknown to other theologians. For one thing, they 
profess to extract monotheistic teaching from documents 
which breathe pol3'thcism in every line. But though I 
believe the Vedas to be, of all the "sacred" books of the 
world, perhaps the most unpromising materials for deifica- 
tion, it is not on their individual demerits that I wish to 
dwell. What I cannot but deplore is the fact that the 
Arya Samaj, so enlightened in many of its tenets, should 
give its soul into bondage to any "holy texts" whatsoever, 
and should simply substitute an intellectual idolatry for 
the worship of stocks and stones. The childish incompe- 
tence of thought revealed in the expositor}^ tracts of the 
Samaj is only accentuated by a parade of modem scientific 
method. We are offered, for example, "internal" and "ex- 
ternal" evidences that "the Vedas are the Word Divine." 
The internal evidences are simply assertions contained in 
the Vedas themselves : for example : 

He from whom the Rig Veda sprang, He from whom the 
Yajur Veda sprang, like unto whose hairs are the Samas, and 
like unto whose mouth is the Atharva-Angiras — what is that 
Being like ? Him do thou declare, O Sage. 

Answer: Know, O mortals, that this Being is Skambha (Pil- 
lar of the universe or Fulcrum of all existence). — Atharva X., 

The external evidences are similar assertions occurring 
in other writings; such as this from Manu: 

To the wise elders, to the sages and saints and mankind in gen- 
eral, the scripture is an eye giving constant light ; nor could the 
Veda-Shastra have been made by human faculties, nor can it be 



measured by human reason (unassisted by revealed glosses and 
comments) : this is a sure proposition. 

It Tvould seem that the followers of Dayanand, if not 
he himself, admit "revelation" in glosses and comments" 
subsequent to the Yedas : but it would be mere waste of time 
to examine the evidential value of such statements, whether 
"internal" or "external." Argument in a circle is every- 
where a pleasant intellectual exercise, but nowhere is it 
more popular than in India. You prove an author in- 
spired by showing that he was inspired to assert his own 
inspiration, and that other (uninspired) authors have 
repeated his assertion. 

Dayanand, indeed, must not be held responsible for the 
logic of his followers. Here, however, are a couple of ex- 
tracts from the writings of the Maharishi himself, which 
sufficiently disclose the intellectual level upon which he 

"The Rig Veda, the Sama Veda, the Yajur Veda, and the 
Atharva Veda are the outbreathings of that great being." — 
Shathapatha, Kan. I., Chapter 5. 

To make this clearer: 

"Maitriya (says Yajnavalka) by Him who encompasses even 
Space, the Rig Veda as well as the other Vedas — all four of 
them — are breathed forth without effort." This is a fact. And 
as the vital air issuing from the body is breathed in again, even 
so are the Vedas breathed forth and finally breathed in again 
by God. This is certain. 

On this subject manj' people say: "How could the Veda which 
is in word form have proceeded from God who is incorporeal and 
without parts?" To this we reply: "Such an objection cannot 
hold good when urged against an almighty God. Why? Because 

* From An Introduction to a Commentary on the Vedas. Young-men's 
Arya Samaj Tract Society, Lahore. 


even in the absence of mouth, the pranas (breathing power) and 
other appliances in the Supreme, the power to do His work, is 
ever present (or manifest) in Him. And even as in the mind of 
man, when absorbed in silent thought, words in question-and- 
answer form are being constantly pronounced, even such (we must 
believe) in the case with the Supreme also. He whose omnipo- 
tence is undoubted, taketh not the help of anyone in doing His 
work. Mortals cannot do their work without the help of others, 
but such is not the case with God. When He, though incorporeal 
and without parts, made the entire universe, then how can the 
fact of His having made (revealed) the Vedas be doubted?" 

Just as a father ever does kind offices unto his children, even 
so does God, in His infinite Mercy, preach His knowledge unto all 
men. If He did not do this, then, as the result of ignorance and 
barbarism transmitted from age to age, men would find it impos- 
sible to realize Dhamia (duty), Artha (wealth), Kama (felicity), 
and Moksha (salvation), and hence would be shut out from the 
enjoyment of supreme bliss. When the merciful God has created 
roots, fruits, and so forth for the enjoyment and happiness of 
His creatures, how could He then have left out vouchsafing to 
them the Vedas, the source of all bliss, the record of all Law 
and Knowledge? The happiness which accrues to man from the 
possession of the most enjoyable things in the universe, does not 
come up even to a thousandth part of that which the possession 
of knowledge gives. It follows from all this that God is the 
author of the Vedas, and even this must be believed. 

And Swami Dayanand is one of the great thinkers of 
modern India! That India which we are asked to regard 
as possessing a unique spiritual genius ! That India which 
proposes to send forth its Swamis to spiritualize tlie Western 
world, the world of Berkeley and Kant, of Bergson and 
William James.* 

* "Once more," said Swimii Vivekanaiula, "the world must he con- 
quered by India. This is the dream of my life. . . . We must conquer 
the world through our spirituality and pliilosopliy, we must do it, or die. 



"But is not this Veda-worship better, after all, than the 
worship of Siva and Kali, of Ganesh and Hanuman? Since 
the Arja Saniaj renounces caste,* child-marriage, enforced 
widowhood, sraddha (ancestor-worship), pilgrimages and 
other abuses of Hinduism, and since it is admitted on aU 
hands that, in India, at any rate, education must proceed 
upon some religious basis, may not 'Back to the Vedas' 
be the very idea predestined to solve the great and pressing 
problem of discovering a principle of instruction at once 
fairly enlightened and fairly acceptable to the Indian 
people? Ought not the Government, perhaps, in its prom- 
ised campaign against illiteracy, to take a leaf out of the 
book of the Arya Samaj ? Might it not even entrust to the 
Samaj, at all events in Northern India, the working-out 
of its proposals?" Such thoughts as these have again 
and again beset me, in reflecting upon the difficulties of the 
situation. "Assuming," I have said to myself, "that some 
compromise with unreason is inevitable, might not this 
compromise prove the least injurious?" 

To these questions there are many answers ; but the most 
conclusive is that the compromise would not be even 
"fairly acceptable to the Indian people." The Arya Samaj 
is, after all, only a heretic sect, and the Government is 
forbidden, by its essential principle of religious impartial- 
ity, to endow any sect whatever. It might almost as well 

The only condition of Indian national life ... is the conquest of the 
world by Indian thought." An "eminent Hindu teacher" entitling 
himself "His Holiness Swami Sri Shankeranand Sannyasi" has recently 
been evangelizing in South Africa. His doctrine is that "When man 
through the help of a real spiritual teacher has realized that he is only 
a stranger here, and that his original and proper residence is the eternal 
happiness, he cannot be entrapped into the net of illusion, and thus he 
reaches the supreme stage of the Highest — the Ultimatum." 

* It is reproached with many backslidings in the matter of caste 
(see p. 91). There is no doubt, however, that the Samaj does excellent 
work among outcasts and untouchables. 


endow Christianity while it was about it, and try to force 
Christian education upon the masses. The attempt would 
be scarcely more shocking to the general sentiment. 

The Chances of Christianity. 

Here a word may be said in passing as to the prospect of 
a solution of India's problems through the spread of Chris- 
tianity. It is a vision that has haunted many fine spirits, 
from Herbert Edwardes in the past to the Rev. C. F. 
Andrews in the present. The Renaissance in India: Its 
Mitsionary Aspect, by the last-mentioned writer, is cer- 
tainly one of the most helpful books of recent years. Its 
ardent humanity, its faultless sweet-reasonableness, almost 
persuade one to share the writer's hopes that in Christ 
lies "the key to India's future." But what are the chances.'' 
After many centuries of occasional missionary effort, and 
a century of constant labour by many European and 
American organizations, the tale of Indian Christians does 
not amount to quite four millions ! In other words there 
are three hundred and eleven millions still awaiting con- 
version. It is true that the influence of Christianity is not 
to be measured by the number of actual converts. It is 
traceable in all the intellectual movements of modern India 
— in every reform, indeed, wliich does not proceed directly 
from the Government, and in many which do. But this 
merely means that Western enlightenment has come to the 
East in such close association with Christianity tliat it is 
impossible to distinguish between the one influence and the 
other. Christian missions — and not least among them the 
Salvation Army — have assuredly done splendid work. I 
brought with me (I confess) a vague prejudice against the 
missionary and liis calling, but it did not take me long 
to throw it off. After a few weeks in India, one fully 



enters into the spirit of Sir Alfred Lyall's Theology in 
Extremis, and feels that here one would die for a religion 
which elsewhere one would disown. Certainly it would be 
to the immeasurable advantage of India if the great land- 
slide in the direction of Christianity, which Mr. C. F. 
Andrews seems to anticipate, were one day to occur. So 
strongly do I feel this that I should be sorry to say a word 
that might have a featherweight of influence in impeding 
such a movement. Christianity would be for India a half- 
way house to civilization — of that there is no doubt. But 
if you ask for the evidence portending a mass-movement 
towards the halfway-house, I confess that I cannot find 
it either by observation or in the writings of the missionaries. 
Some people hold that the current is rather setting towards 
Islam, and that view seems to be quite as plausible. 

The coming education for the masses, at all events, can- 
not be Christian. So far as it is directed by Government 
— and no other agency is adequate to the gigantic task — 
it must be wholly dissociated from sect or creed. But a 
host of authorities rise up to assure us, tlieoretically, that 
"education without a religious basis is like building a house 
without foundations," and practically, that under the sys- 
tem of secular education hitherto pursued by the Govern- 
ment "no appreciable rise in morality can be observed." 
It would seem, then, that we are in a cleft stick: that we 
cannot give religious education, and that non-religious 
education is powerless for good. 

A little examination, however, may perhaps lead us to 
a more cheerful view of the case. To take the question of 
experience first, the weight of evidence is against the asser- 
tion that secular education is powerless for good. Grave 
as have been the defects of the methods hitherto adopted, 
the saner view seems to be that they have done much to 
raise the average character of those who have come under 


their influence. It would take pages to marshal the evidence 
on both sides. Here it need only be said that, from the 
nature of the case, the failures are more apt to be noted 
and remembered than the successes, and that large allow- 
ance must be made for the point of view. The British 
official may sometimes record as moral delinquency what 
is, in fact, the awakening of a (perhaps misguided) sense 
of moral responsibility. 

Passing now to the theoretical question, is it, in fact, 
impossible to devise a form of education which, without 
affirming or denying anything as to powers unseen or other 
lives than this, may have a definite and potent effect in the 
upbuilding of character? It does not seem to me impossible 
at all, if India wiU faithfully apply her best intelligence 
to the task, and if the Bi'itish Government, on its part, will 
place no hindrance in the way of a scheme of instruction 
which shall answer to the legitimate aspirations of intelli- 
gent India. 

It is true, no doubt, that little is to be expected from 
the administration of the three R's with a "cauld clash o' 
morality." * The mistake lies in imagining that it is 

* Something, however, can be done on these lines. The Government 
Rcsohition of February, 1913, lays it down that "Excellent raatcrisils 
for ethical teaching are available in the Mahabharata, the Ramayana, 
portions of Hafiz, Sadi, Maulana Rumi, and other classics of Sanskrit, 
Arabic, Persian, and Pali." I imagine that this remark was partly, at 
any rate, inspired by the success which is said to have attended the in- 
troduction into some schools of Youth's Noble Path, by Mr. F. J. Gould 
— a book of moral lessons extracted from the classics aforesaid. Mr. 
Gould himself visited India at the invitation of the Bombay Government, 
and gave some lessons, with encouraging results. It is reported that in 
the schools of the State of Mysore "direct moral teaching is given by 
capable men who make their discourses interesting and instructive by 
illustrating moral precepts with examples taken from the Ramayana and 
the Mahabharata, history, fables, folk-lore, etc." If material for the up- 
building of character can be extracted from the, so mucli the bet- 
ter; but certainly the process must be one of drastic expurgation. 



supernatural religion alone that can "touch morality with 
emotion." If a fer\'ent sense of supernatural religion were 
necessary to the fomiation of character, then England 
herself would be in a parlous case ; for who can allege that 
any deep personal religion is generally characteristic of the 
British schoolboy of any class? In nine cases out of ten, 
it is not devotion but loyalty that keeps a young man 
straight — loyalty to his family or school traditions ; loyalty 
to his class, or (if you will) to his caste; loyalty to his 
country, or to some larger, yet still mundane, ideal — to 
science, to art, or to social service. It may be reUgious 
fervour, in the narrower sense, that makes the saint, though 
even that is not alwaj-s true; but if it needed religious 
fervour, or even conviction, to make an upright man and 
a good citizen, then, I repeat, England's case would be 
desperate indeed. The crying fault of English education, 
to my thinking, is that we do not make strong enough and 
definite enough appeal to the largest loyalty of all — the 
loyalty to that great host of Humankind, which has won 
such splendid victories (though here and there chequered 
with defeats) on its march out of the dim and tragic past, 
and is clearly destined to far greater triumphs in the im- 
measurable future, if only each man does faithfully the 
duty that falls to liis lot. This is not an appeal to any 
Religion of Humanity in a technical, Comtean sense, but 
simply to the plain facts of anthropology and history", 
which, rightly presented, are just as capable as any creed of 
touching morality with emotion, and have the great advan- 
tage of being unassailable by criticism. Not until we place 
our moral teaching on a historic basis, and admit that 
its sanctions are antecedent to, and independent of, 
theology, will the problem of English education be ulti- 
mately solved. 

This, however, is a digression, intended merely to iUus- 


trate the fact that it is not through religion alone that 
morahty can be raised to the temperature at which it 
passes into our blood and nerve — into the very fibre of 
our being. AH that is needed is to kindle a sentiment, or 
(one might almost say) to awaken an instinct, of loyalty 
to something higher than our own personal or family inter- 
ests — "something, not ourselves, that makes for," or rather 
demands, "righteousness." 

Patriotism as an Ikspirixg Principle. 

Where are we to find in India this "something not our- 
selves.'"' To appeal to the Indian masses on the ground 
of world-citizenship — of their participation in the onward 
march of humanity — would be so premature that the sug- 
gestion sounds ironic. But may not the necessary stimulus 
be found in that very idea of India, of the Motherland, 
which a timorous or merely selfish policy would have us 
proscribe as seditious.'' Just as the loyalty of an English, 
French, or German schoolboy ought to be extended so as to 
embrace, not only his country, but the world, so the loyalty 
of the Indian schoolboy of the near future should be en- 
couraged to attach itself, not merely to his caste or sect, 
but to his country. Whether we like it or not, this is what 
will happen — nay, is happening in certain parts of India. 
It seems to me that the onlj' true wisdom for the Govern- 
ment is to recognize that the inevitable is also the desirable, 
and to seek in patriotism that reinforcement of character 
which is falsely declared to be the peculiar property of 
religion. "Bande Mataram" should no longer be the watch- 
word of sedition, but should be accepted as the inspiring 
principle of a great effort of national regeneration. It 
should be the motto, not only of the schoolroom, but of the 



"Is national patriotism," some people may ask, "the 
only, or the best, inspiring principle? What about im- 
perialism? Why should not the loyalty in which you would 
have us seek the starch of character be loyalty to the British 
Empire?" I do not discuss the question, because to any- 
one who has a living vision of India it is merely absurd. 
What can the British Empire mean to the Indian school- 
boy? What has it meant to the Indians who have actually 
put the idea to the test in South Africa and Canada? The 
question of the ultimate relation of India to the British 
Empire will be solved, when the time comes, by considera- 
tions of statesmanship which we cannot yet foresee, in a 
world very different from that of to-day. In the meantime, 
of course, loyalty to India need not exclude loyalty to the 
King-Emperor, the head of the actual Government. The 
best way to endanger the latter loyalty is to declare it in- 
consistent with the former. 

Let it not be thought, however, that I consider the 
problem solved by the mere mention of the word "patriot- 
ism" as the inspiring principle of the new education. The 
real difficulty lies in disengaging patriotism from the ignor- 
ant or misinformed vanity to which India is ah-eady far too 
prone. The battle will lie, not between patriotism and no 
patriotism, but between enlightened and misguided patriot- 
ism; and if, by a narrow and jealous policy, we strengthen 
the worser cause, nothing but disaster can follow. By mis- 
guided patriotism I mean that which declares India to 
be a land specially favoured by heaven; the home of the 
loftiest religions, the profoundest philosopliies, the noblest 
civilizations, the world has ever seen ; a land whose divine 
genius has passed under the eclipse of brutal foreign domin- 
ation, which it has but to cast off in order to shine forth in 
redoubled radiance, the wonder and envy of mankind. Of 
tills vision of India, what can one say but that "history 


laughs and weeps it down?" It should be the task of the 
true scholar-patriot to teach his country that no region 
of earth is specially favoured by heaven; that to India's 
lot has fallen many glories, but also many calamities ; that 
if we regard the past alone, we are bound to admit that the 
balance deflects on the wrong side ; but that it lies with 
this and the coming generations to redress the balance, and 
make the real India of the future far greater and more 
splendid than any of the fabled Indias of the past. 
Especially should the teacher show that, whatever may be 
the truth about these vanished glories, it will be time to 
boast of them when they are restored, and not till then. 
It may be thought that the whole tenor of this book 
is to depreciate and belittle the past of India; but I attack 
only the legendary and fictitious past which threatens to 
enslave and blight the future. No one feels more keenly 
than I do that a reasonable and well-founded patriotic pride 
is possible to every Indian. His country is one of the most 
beautiful and wonderful in the world. The very legends 
that have gathered round it, the very superstitions that 
have weighed it down, are among the most fascinating 
phenomena in the history of the human spirit. In phi- 
losophy, in art, it has been, though not supreme, as its 
idolaters would have us think, yet nobly distinguished. It 
has set the world's standard of spectacular magnificence. 
If it has been the prey of many conquerors, that is only 
because it has been the dream of all. Had India never 
existed, history would have lacked many of its most marvel- 
lous pages, and the imagination of the world would have 
been immeasurably the poorer. The children of the IVIotlier- 
land have ample grounds for legitimate, though chastened, 
pride; and unchastened pride is, in any people, only another 
name for ignorant vanity. If India can but find the wise 
teachers she needs, she may one day exchange that chastened 



sentiment for the exultant pride which says : "These and 
these evils were, and are no more." 

What is wanted, then, is a sound course of Indian ele- 
mentary education, and especially a series of text-books 
written by Indians for Indians, which shaU place India 
before the youthful mind as a real country in a real world. 
There is no lack of men qualified to produce such books — 
men familiar with the results of modem scholarship and 
science, and capable of expressing them clearly and accept- 
ably. European help should doubtless be called in — the 
help, I mean, not only of books, but of men — but in- 
formation must be conveyed through Indian channels and 
under Indian sanction. The theological difficulty is surely 
no greater in India than in England. Hinduism, though it 
has talked much of "righteousness," has never claimed 
moral teaching as one of its functions, so cannot hold its 
privileges invaded. Moreover with all its sruti and smriti, 
it has no definite canon of sacred books — none, at any rate, 
that is accessible to the masses — so that the inconsistency 
between the theological and the scientific conceptions of 
the world need not become so definite and clear-cut as it is 
with us. Even the Koran stands in no more flagrant con- 
flict with astronomy, geology and anthropology than does 
the Bible. Moreover, the accommodating nature of the 
Indian intellect in regard to the acceptance of contradic- 
tions ought to smooth away certain initial difficulties. No 
desperate conflict between science and theology need arise 
in minds which are capable of believing, at one and the same 
time, that the world is round, and that the world is flat. 
This capability must, in time, be eliminated; but in the 
first stages of mental awakening it may prove convenient. 
Not, indeed, that India is the only country where enlight- 
enment and superstition can co-exist comfortably in the 
same mind. They do so in every clime — one might almost 


say in every brain, excepting those in which superstition 
reigns supreme. It is all a question of proportion, of 
degree; and the growth of world-realization must of course 
be gradual in India, as it has been everywhere else. 

The true difficult}', I conceive, will not be theological, 
but social. What attitude is the new education to adopt 
towards those social institutions, with caste in their fore- 
front, which have no inherent and necessary connection 
with religion, but are inseparably bound up with it in the 
popular mind.'' This is a problem which the intelligence 
of India must solve for itself; and it is just here that the 
patriotic ideal, judiciously brought into play, ought to be 
the determining factor. It may be said that the patriotic 
ideal can never take hold upon the popular mind until 
caste, its negation, is vanquished. But tliis is to assume 
that India is exempt from the providential muddle-headed- 
ness with which, as we have just noted, she is, in fact, rather 
superabundantly endowed. The idea of caste and the idea 
of a great united India, though essentially incompatible, 
may quite well be housed in the same head ; but under the 
right S3'stem of education, the larger, saner, wholesomer 
idea ought gradually to eliminate itj rival. So too, with 
immature marriage and enforced widowhood : it is one thing 
to chng to them in opposition to European prejudice and 
Christian disapproval, quite another to close the ears to the 
remonstrances of Indians who have obviously nothing but 
the welfare and greatness of India at heart. While social 
reform means, or appears to mean, the victor}' of Europe 
over the national ideal, it is natural enough that many 
otherwise enlightened Indians should view it with coldness, 
and even hostility; but if once it is seen and admitted to 
be an indis])ensable preliminary, not to the defeat, but to 
the triumph of the national ideal, patriotism cannot but 
rally to its support, 



Even now, it seems to me, enlightened "Servants of 
India" — to use the title of Mr. Gokhale's nobly-inspired 
confraternity- — might set about the composition and com- 
pilation of vernacular text-books, and thus show the Gov- 
ernment the way it ought to go. What books already exist 
I do not know ; but they can scarcely be informed by the 
ideal here propounded. Perhaps a Central Committee 
might be formed which should distribute the different 
tasks among men of known competence. It would, I assume, 
matter little in what language the books were originally 
written, since they could be translated into all the others. 
But each division of the country should have its special 
historical-geographical handbook in its own idiom. 

And here we come upon a point to which I cannot find 
that sufficient attention has been given. "It is an amazing 
fact," writes the Rev. J. Knowles,* "that the Indian Empire 
has a greater number of alphabets than there are for all 
the other languages in the world." This statement may, 
perhaps, be open to criticism ; but the fact that it can be 
made without patent absurdity is sufficiently significant. 
Mr. Knowles continues : 

"There are about 50 recognized indigenous alphabets, and 
there are probably twice as many varieties of scripts used in writ- 
ing them. Most of the sounds are common to all languages . . . 
but it is remarkable that hardly any of the letters for the same 
sound have the same form in any two different vernaculars. No 
less than 10,000 symbols are in use to represent the 64 sounds 
which are all the vernaculars contain. 

To print the most ordinary book in the Devanagari 
character, a fount of some eight hundred types is required ; 

* Our Duty to India and Indian Illiterates; London, Christian Litera- 
ture Society, 1910. See also the same writer's: Common Alphabet for 
Indian Languages, Eastbourne, W. H. Christian, 1913. 


Malayalam and Sinhalese require over seven hundred each.* 
The great number of syllabic characters renders it verj' 
difficult to learn to read and write in these languages; 
and even if the number of types required were smaller, the 
necessity for employing so many different founts must 
enormously enhance the cost of providing books for a 
general scheme of vernacular education. A quarter of a 
century ago, Sir M. Monier-Williams w^rote: "Britain is 
bound to give her unlettered millions of subjects the option 
of acquiring a simple alphabet, which would, if adopted, 
reduce the labour of education, now much increased by the 
complexity of indigenous graphic systems." I cannot 
learn that any definite steps in this direction have yet been 
taken; but surely an All-Indian Alphabet is the most in- 
dispensable of pre-requisites for a campaign against 
illiteracy. Mr. Knowlcs, the unwearied champion of this 
idea, reckons that fifty-three alphabetic characters would 
be sufficient to represent all the sounds in the Indian ver- 
naculars, and has actually designed such an alphabet, based 
on our ordinary Roman types. I am told that his phonetic 
analysis is defective, and that liis scheme would require 
serious modification. On this point I can have no opinion ; 
but, whatever the merits or defects of his system, the prin- 
ciple remains unaffected. If it be true (and there is no 
reason to doubt it) that all, or even the chief, vernacular 
languages of India could be printed and written by means 
of a single alphabet of from fifty to sixty letters, it would 
seem to be the plainest dut}' of the Government to appoint 
a commission of experts to devise sucli an aljiliabet.f 

•There are great discrepancies in the numbers stated by (iitTeront 
writers, and even by the same writer at different times. It is sufficient 
for the argument that tlie number of types required by any syllabic 
system of notation is necessarily very large. 

f There would be some opposition to the introduction of a reinforced 



Though there should certainly be no unnecessary delay 
in setting about the great effort of enlightenment now 
formally promised, I would suggest to the Indians who 
are impatient for sweeping measures that a well-considered 
and thorouglily-prepared movement is better than a hasty 
rush at so difficult a problem. For one thing, the training 
of teachers is an indispensable preliminary, and for this 
the best European aid should be called in. For another 
thing, it is of vast importance that female education should 
not be left to lag hopelessly behind, but that measures 
should be taken to bring it more or less into line. Better, 
for a beginning, comparatively few schools taught by com- 
petent and tolerably-paid masters,* than a great number 
taught by starved incompetents. Better schools attended 
by a thousand boys and five hundred girls than schools 
attended by two thousand boys and no girls, or only a 
handful. Into questions of ways and means, I have no 
space to enter, even if I had the knowledge. Let me only 
say that in such a country as India, there must always be 
difiFerences of opinion as to the relative importance of 
the various purposes to which public funds are applied, 
and that, for some time to come, the Government will 
scarcely escape the charge of lavishing money on other 
objects which its critics consider less essential, and treating 
education with parsimony. But if the Government gives 
proof of the sincerity of its intentions, it seems to me that 
fair-minded critics should not complain too bitterly if the 
rate of progress does not quite answer to their wishes. 

Roman alphabet on the score of its being un-Indian. But this opposition 
could surely be overcome; unless, indeed, one of the indigenous syllabaries 
could be so adapted as to give it the advantages of an alphabet. 

* How low is the standard of remuneration may be gathered from the 
fact that the Resolution of February, 1913, lays it down that "trained 
teachers should receive not less than Rs. 12 per month," — that is, sixteen 


India has been content with illiteracy for tiiousands of 
years ; it does not so very greatly matter whether it takes 
twenty, or forty, or even sixty years, to root it out. 

A Literate India. 

But when once illiteracy becomes the exception instead 
of the rule, how marvellous will be the change! On the 
material side, the whole working of the machinery of civil- 
ization will be greatly facilitated. The peasant will be much 
better able to hold his own against the village accountant, 
the landlord and the money-lender. He will be able to make 
free use of agricultural banks, and perhaps he will put his 
savings into the savings-bank instead of hanging them on 
his wife's nose, wrists and ankles. On the intellectual side he 
will gradually pass into a world of new interest — a world 
bearing some resemblance, at any rate, to the globe on 
which he is actually placed. The ferment in his mind will 
doubtless take strange and possibly dangerous forms. He 
will exchange apathy for mobility, excitability, and will be 
very accessible to suggestion, good or bad. The vernacular 
press will then have ten times its present power; the 
rhetorician and the sophist will be loud in the land. If the 
Government be determined to remain obstinately hostile to 
national aspirations, it is, as I have alreadj- said, pursuing 
the maddest of policies in educating the masses. Even if it 
adopted (as it will surely be driven to adopt) the view that 
its great function is precisely to train India for Swaraj, 
it may have to face a difficult period of turbulent im- 
patience, to which, in the interest of the country itself, 
it must not yield. I cannot but think that one way to avoid 
or minimize this danger would be for the Government to 
become itself a purveyor of vernacular literature, both 
in the shape of books and periodicals. If j-ou create a 



reading public, it is but reason to provide it with some- 
thing good to read. Well-edited, interesting, well-illustrated 
papers, to circulate through each of the great regions of 
the country, would be only a logical corollary to the whole 
theory of popular education. There is no harm in a sub- 
sidized press, so long as its position is frankly avowed. A 
secret bribe paid to a paper which professes independence 
is a totally different matter.* 

In this chapter, even more than in its predecessors, I 
am only too well aware that I must have been guilty of 
many superficiahties, and doubtless of not a few errors. 
The one theory which I advance with perfect confidence, 
is that the educational problem falls into line with all the 
rest, inasmuch as the key to it lies in the recognition that 
our rule in India is a means, not an end, and that the end 
is none other than the addition of a great self-sufficing, 
self-respecting ci\alized community to the free and equal 
nations of the earth. 

* Scarcely had I written these lines when I came across a letter from 
Sir Henry Lawrence to Lord Canning, written shortly before the Mutiny, 
in which he spealcs of incendiary newspapers. "I would not trouble any 
of them," he says, "but, with your Lordship's permission, I think we 
might squash half the number by helping one or two of the cleverest 
with information, and even with editorials and illustrations. . . . An 
illustrated vernacular, cleverly edited, would tell well, and do good both 
politically and morally." 



In attempting to think out a problem like that of the 
future of India, one must inevitably take as a starting- 
point some more or less definite expectation, or, at any 
rate, desire, regarding the future of the world at large. 
The fundamental assumption on which my argument pro- 
ceeds is that some rational and stable world-order is ulti- 
mately attainable. If that be denied — if it be asserted, for 
instance, that the more prolific nations and races will always 
tend to encroach upon the territory of the less prolific, and 
that the struggle for existence, in the shape of wars for 
territorial expansion, must go on to the end of time — then 
the attempt to apply reason to international problems 
becomes, if not absolutely futile, at any rate, comparatively 
uninteresting. Blind instinct being, by hypothesis, the 
determining force in human affairs, and periods of civili- 
zation and rational progress being simply lucid intervals 
between recurrent crises of barbarism, why should we toil 
and struggle towards a foredoomed and self-defeating ideal ? 
And why, in particular, should we trouble our heads as to 
the future of India? Let British rule maintain itself as 
long as it can, and then pass away in the welter of the next 
world-convulsion. Progress being illusory, or at best 
evanescent, why force it upon a country which, in its inmost 
heart, resents and despises it? 

This argument, pushed to its limits, would imply timt 
constructive thought, in the political sphere, is an absurdity, 
since there is notliing ultimately good or ultimately bad 
in an incurably chaotic world. The wise man will confine 



his care to matters of immediate expediency, knowing that 
every seeming triumph of reason and order will, in the long 
run, have to be paid for — perhaps with usury. 

But if, on the other hand, a rational world-order be 
not, in the nature of things, impossible, the future of India 
becomes a matter of absorbing interest, because it offers, 
so to speak, a test case. One of the great obstacles to a 
stable equilibrium among the peoples of the earth lies in 
the immense differences in the development of the different 
races. If, in a case so conspicuous as that of India, the 
obstacle can be overcome, and one-fifth of the human race 
can, in the course of a couple of centuries (say from 
A.D. 1800 to A.D. 2000) be emancipated from medievalism, 
and fitted to take an equal place among the peoples who 
are shaping the future, then the solution of the whole 
problem will at last be definitely in sight. 

As to the general justification of our rule in India, up to 
the present point, we need have, I think, no qualms. It 
is rather surprising to find a philosopliic historian like Lord 
Bryce — and, after him. Lord Morley — raising the question 
whether "the immediate result" of the influence of Europe 
upon Asia will be "to increase the sum of human happi- 
ness." * One is inclined to answer as Robert Bruce, in John 
Davidson's play, answers the question whether it might not 
have been better for Scotland if Rome had conquered her: 

A subtle question, soldier, 
But profitless, requiring fate unwomid. 

The influence of Europe upon Asia is no mere accident 
which we can, as it were, think away, in order to speculate 
upon the course things would have taken if it had not 

* Lord Bryce in The Roman and the British Empires, p. 73. Lord 
Morley In a speech at Manchester, June, 1912. 


happened. There is a sense in which (for instance) the 
result of the battle of Waterloo was an accident. A very 
slight difTerence in the balance of motives governing the 
conduct of Grouchy would have led him to "march to the 
cannons," and would in all probability- have turned the for- 
tunes of the day. We can then, rationally (if not very prof- 
itably), conjecture what would have happened if Napoleon 
had won the battle — as Mr. G. M. Trevelyan has, in fact, 
done, with much ingenuity. But in order to imagine events 
so shaping themselves that Asia should not, in the nineteenth 
century, have undergone the influence of Europe, we have 
either to unmake and remake human nature, or else to go 
back into the prehistoric past, and, standing beside the 
conjectured cradle of mankind, speculate on what would 
have happened if the children had climbed out of the cradle 
on different sides, or in a different order. In other words, 
the relations between West and East proceed from causes 
so infinitely remote as to baffle analysis and present them- 
selves to our imagination in tlie guise of fatality. 

They were determined from the moment when the East 
adopted the static ideal of civilization, which happens to be 
in the long run false and impossible, and left the West to 
discover the dynamic ideal, which happens to be alone 
consonant with the inmost nature of things. From that 
moment it was inevitable that in the fullness of time — which 
practically means when the ocean had been transformed 
from a barrier into a higliwa}- — the East should be awak- 
ened, and to some extent dominated, by the West. Move- 
ment must always have the advantage over immobility, 
momentum over inertia. The ring-fence ideal broke down, 
not so much by reason of violence from without, as of dis- 
affection from within. However intense may be the 
innate and cultivated conservatism of a people, it cannot 
resist the infiltration of knowledge; and when it becomes 



known that other peoples exercise certain marvellous powers 
of locomotion, communication and production of commodi- 
ties, whereby they attain great riches and power, the desire 
to share in these benefits becomes irresistible. In vain do 
the sages proclaim that they are not benefits at all, and 
strive to stop the breaches in the ring-fence. Human nature 
is too strong for them. When desirable things can be done 
and procured rapidly and economically, no section of man- 
kind can, in the long run, be persuaded that it is better to 
go without them, or to do and procure them slowly and with 
infinite labour. Surely the one unmistakable lesson of the 
history of the past hundred years is that great disparities of 
material civilization cannot for ever co-exist on this tiny 
globe of ours. The railway, the telegraph and the auto- 
mobile are penetrating, and are bound to penetrate, every- 
where. Should they be superseded by stiU more efficient and 
economical devices, all the more rapidly will the whole world 
be permeated by the filaments of one great nervous system. 
The East was fated to fall under the influence of the West, 
because the East denied, while the West affirmed, the 
potency of Time as a factor in human affairs. 

Therefore I am unmoved by the sarcasm of that able 
Japanese writer, Okakura Kakuzo, when he exclaims : "You 
talk of the Yellow Peril — but what about the White Dis- 
aster?" It was because Asia misread the essential nature 
of things that she was fated to undergo the influence of 
Europe. To ask whether that influence makes for happi- 
ness seems to me not unlike inquiring whether a child would 
not be happier if it could remain a child for ever. 

It is true that the ring-fence theory was never formally 
adopted in India, as it was in China and Japan. How could 
it be, in the most invaded country in the world, with the 
possible exception of Italy.' There were too many practi- 
cable gaps in the physical ring-fence. But India fell a victim, 


no less than her neighbours, to the spiritual disease, endemic 
in Asia, of which the ring-fence theory is the most familiar 
symptom. Even to-day, do we not find pundits solemnly 
discussing whether it is lawful for a Hindu to cross the kala 
pani, and deciding in the negative by a majority of forty- 
five to one? A century ago, the prohibition was absolute 
and unquestioned — and what clearer evidence could one re- 
quire of unfitness to take part in the inevitable development 
of the real world? A race which thus walled itself in behind 
Himalayas of arrogant ignorance, and then split itself up 
into a thousand segments of no less arrogant mutual exclu- 
siveness, was manifestly predestined to a period of tutelage 
and probation ere it could fail into step with the advancing 
host of civilization. Ignorance and arrogance are poor 
defences against the resistless trend of human affairs, nor 
can any race, by taking council with its gods and its rishis, 
elect to stand still in a moving world. 

The task of opening passes through the mountains of 
ignorance fell to England, and not to France or anolher, 
because England, at the critical period, happened to com- 
mand the sea. The bait which lured her on was commercial 
advantage, and for some time, l>efore slie realized her true 
mission, she pursued that advantage unscrupulously and 
even ruthlessly. But it was not long before her better 
instincts awoke, and siie saw herself, not in the light of an 
irresponsible trafficker, but of a guardian and trustee. It is 
upon her more and more perfect realization of the duties 
involved in this relationship that the success of her great 
undertaking, in my judgment, depends. 

In any picture that we can form of a stable world-order, 
can we possibly imagine three hundred million people abjur- 
ing for ever the exercise of their will on political matters 
of any importance, and resting content to leave their 
national fortunes and their individual welfare in the iin- 



restricted charge, primarily, of a body of alien adminis- 
trators, and ultimately of the elective assembly of an alien 
nation, nearly half the world away? If these three hundred 
million people belonged to an essentially low and unimprov- 
able stock, such a solution of their destiny might be think- 
able, though scarcely desirable. But, as we have seen, this 
is by no means the case. They are a blending of various 
races, almost all of relatively high potentialities. There is, 
indeed, a large infusion of a breed neither higher nor lower 
than our own, since it is ultimately the same. Nor is this 
composite race, when once awakened from the sheer apathy 
of a meagre life on the soU, by any means inclined to humility 
and subserA'ience. It is much more apt to overvalue than 
to underrate its grounds for racial and historical self- 
complacency. Who can possibly believe that such a people 
will passively submit to perpetual tutelage.'' Or that any 
other people, which has its own work to do and its own 
troubles to face in the world, can permanently aiFord to hold 
them in subjection by what service-club declaimers call "the 

No doubt one maj' be deceived in anticipating that the 
coming world-order will be in the main democratic. The 
apparent drift towards democracy may be a false start, and 
order may be ultimately imposed by a confederation, or a 
conspiracy, of militarj- autocracies. But that would mean 
a rearrangement of world-forces in which, most assuredly, 
the British rule in India could not subsist in anything like 
its present form. If, on the other hand, democratic insti- 
tutions survive and develop, it is wholly inconceivable that 
an educated and civilized India should never aspire to take 
its fate into its own hands, or, so aspiring, should be forc- 
ibly balked of its will by a far smaller nation at the other 
side of the planet. This autocracy of a democracy is a 
paradox and a mam'el wliich may, if we are wise, work out 


beneficently for the one party and gloriously for the other. 
But work out it must, for good or for ill — it cannot endure 
for ever. 

Meredith Tmmsend, a man of long (unofficial) Indian 
experience, and author of a clear-sighted though rather too 
pessimistic book, Asia and Europe, goes to the root of the 
matter when he writes : 

The Indian Empire is a miracle, not in the rhetorician's sense, 
but in the theologian's sense. ... It is a miracle, as a floating 
island of granite would be a miracle, or a bird of brass which 
flew and sang and lived on in mid-air. 

That is the fundamental fact wliich was more and more 
impressed on me every daj' I spent in India — a fact which 
people who have not been there do not realize, and which 
those who pass their lives there, forget. Lord Bryce, a 
very observant traveller, realized it to the fuU; but, rather 
oddly, he writes as though the very wonder of the miracle 
were a source of strength to us. "The English," he says, 

have impressed the imagination of the people by their resistless 
energy and their almost uniform success. . . . That over three 
hundred millions of men should be ruled by a few pale-faced 
strangers from beyond the great sea . . . this seems too wonder- 
ful to be anything but the doing of some unseen and irresistible 
divinity. I heard at Laliore an anecdote which, slight as it is, il- 
lustrates the way in which the native thinks of these tilings. 
A tiger had escaped from the Zoological Gardens, and its keeper, 
hoping to lure it back, followed it. When all other inducements 
had failed, he lifted up his voice and solemnly adjured it in the 
name of the British Government, to which it belonged, to come 
back to its cage. The tiger obeyed. 

Perhaps; but how long will the tiger obey? I do not doubt 
that Lord Brjce has rightly discerned one element in the 



complex feeling with which British rule is regarded by the 
mass of the people; but it is necessarily a diminishing ele- 
ment. Familiarity, if it does not breed contempt, at any 
rate takes the edge off wonder. Our military successes are a 
mere legend to this generation ; our administrative successes 
are contested by Indian opinion, and are not, at best, of an 
awe-inspiring nature. It is hard to believe, in short, that 
our position can be permanently strengthened by its very 
marvellousness. Sir Alfred Lyall wrote in the eighties: 
"One thing is sure: the natives all discuss our rule still as a 
transitory state of existence, a huge structure that may 
vanish any day inexplicably as it appeared." 

In the following passage, however. Lord Bryce puts his 
finger on one of the cardinal facts of the situation. "In 
the higher grades of the civil administration," he says, 
"there are only about twelve hundred persons ; and these 
twelve hundred control three hundred and fifteen millions, 
doing it with so little friction that they have ceased to be 
surprised at this extraordinary fact." That is exactly true. 
The British official goes to India young, before he has begun 
to think very seriously about things ; and by the time his 
mind has matured, he has become so habituated to the 
smooth working of the administrative machine that he 
regards it as a matter of course, and quite in the natural 
order of things. He is acutely conscious of imperfections 
in the mechanism, both from his own point of view and from 
that of the people entrusted to his charge; but in the very 
existence of such a mechanism he sees nothing surprising. 
I do not say that this frame of mind is universal. On the 
contrary, one finds cases of a just appreciation of the 
marvel, and cases, too, of an exaggerated fear of it. But 
on the whole one may say that the typical Anglo-Indian 
(and still more, the typical memsahib) is serenely uncon- 
scious of the utter astoundingness of his and her position. 


On the other hand, when we turn to the great men who 
built up the Indian Empire, we find that many of them fully 
realized that they were not laying bases for eternity. They 
saw, indeed, that the very success of their work must make 
the position of a foreign ruling caste ultimately untenable. 
Here is the passage — much better known, unfortunately, in 
India than England — in which Macaulay forecasts what 
seemed to him the most desirable development of the rela- 
tion between the two countries : 

The destinies of our Indian Empire are covered with thick 
darkness. ... It may be that the public mind of India may ex- 
pand under our system till it has outgrown that system ; that by 
good government we may educate our subjects into a capacity for 
better government; that having become instructed in European 
knowledge, they may in some future age demand European insti- 
tutions. Whether such a day will ever come I know not. But 
never will I attempt to avert or retard it. Whenever it comes, it 
will be the proudest day in English history. To have found a 
great people sunk in the lowest depths of slavery and superstition, 
to have so ruled them as to have made them desirous and capable 
of all the privileges of citizens, would indeed be a title to glory 
*11 our own. 

These words were spoken in 1833, before Macaulay went 
to India ; but there is not the slightest reason to suppose 
that experience led to any change in liis views. A somewhat 
older contemporary of his, and an empire-builder in the 
sanest sense of the word, was Mountstuart Elphinstone, 
administrator of the Maharashtra and Governor of Bom- 
bay, where his ardour in the cause of education is com- 
memorated in the Elphinstone College. No abler man has 
England sent to India ; and he spoke in the same sense as 
Macaulay, without Macaulay's note of hesitation. We find 
him writing to Mackintosh in 1819: 



I am afraid the belief that our Indian Empire will not be 
long-lived is reason and not prejudice. It is difficult to guess 
the death it may die. . . . The most desirable death for us to 
die of should be the improvement of the natives reaching such a 
pitch as would render it impossible for a foreign nation to retain 
the government; but this seems at an immeasurable distance. 
... A time of separation must come; and it is for our interest 
to have an early separation from a civilized people rather than 
a violent rupture with a barbarous nation. 

This was not the utterance of a mood, but of a settled 
conviction; for thirty-five years later we find him writing 
to his biographer, Sir T. E. Colebrooke: 

The moral is that we must not dream of perpetual possession, 
but must apply ourselves to bring the natives into a state that will 
admit of their governing themselves in a manner that may be 
beneiJcial to our interest as well as their own and that of the rest 
of the world; and to take the glory of the achievement, and the 
sense of having done our duty, for the chief reward of our exer- 

Very similar was the view of Sir Charles Metcalfe, who, 
in defending his policy of granting liberty to the press, 
wrote: "If my opponents' argument be that the spread of 
knowledge may eventually be fatal to our rule in India, I 
close with them on that point, and maintain that, whatever 
may be the consequences, it is our duty to communicate 
the benefits of knowledge. If India could be presented as 
a part of the British Empire only by keeping its inhabitants 
in a state of ignorance, our domination would be a curse to 
the country, and ought to cease." He went on, indeed, to 
argue that our rule was endangered by ignorance rather 
than by knowledge; but he had at best no great confidence 
in the security of our position. "Our hold," he wrote io 


another place, "is so precarious that a very little misman- 
agement might accomplish our expulsion; and the course of 
events may be of itself sufficient, without any mismanage- 
ment. . . . All our native establishments, military and civil, 
are the followers of fortune; tliey serve us for their liveli- 
hood, and generally serve us well. From a sense of what is 
due to the hand that feeds them — which is one of the virtues 
that they most extol— they may often display fidelity under 
trying circumstances ; but in their inward feelings they par- 
take more or less of the universal disaffection wliich prevails 
against us, not from bad government, but from natural and 
irresistible antipathy." This, to be sure, was written before 
the Mutiny, at a time when our military position was much 
weaker than it is now ; but it certainly cannot be said that 
we are more generally beloved than we were in Metcalfe's 

Of Sir Henry Lawrence, "one who had known him well" 
wrote, "With all his love for the people and their interests, 
he felt that the rule of strangers was only tolerated because 
they could not help themselves." Lawrence himself is 
reported to have said: "We measure too much by English 
rules, and expect, contrary to all experience, that the ener- 
getic and aspiring among immense military masses should 
like our . . . arrogation to ourselves, even when we are 
notorious imbeciles, of all authority and all emolument." 
Though we have somewhat relaxed our exclusive grasp upon 
authority and emolument since Lawrence's day, on the other 
hand, the class of persons who have, at any rate, a plausible 
claim to share in these advantages has increased out of all 
proportion, and the resentment of exclusion has grown far 
more acute. 

A year or two after the death of Henry Lawi-cnce, we 
find a much younger man, Alfred L3'all, expressing the same 
disquietudes. Writing to his family at Harblodown, he says: 



I always find myself diverging into Indian politics, for I am 
interested lieart and soul in the affairs of the country, and am 
always thinking of the probable fortunes of our Empire, and 
trying to conceive it possible to civilize and convert an enormous 
nation by the mechanical processes of the present times, by es- 
tablishing schools and missionary societies. Also, having civil- 
ized them, and taught them the advantage of liberty and the 
use of European sciences, how are we to keep them under us, 
and to persuade them that it is for their good that we hold all 
the high offices of Government? Well, it does not matter much 
to Harbledown. 

Pity that it does not matter more to Harbledown — to the homes 
of England. It must matter much to them all some day whether 
England understands India or not. 

Returning to the subject a little later, he writes: 

The wildest as well as the shallowest notion of all seems to mc 
that universally prevalent belief that education, civilization, and 
increased material prosperity will reconcile the people of India 
eventually to our rule. De Tocqueville's study of the Ancien 
Regime, and the causes of the Revolution . . . appears to me to 
demonstrate most logically that it was the increased prosperity 
and enlightenment of the French people which produced the 
grand crash.* 

Must we not hold it significant that men like Elphinstone, 
Lawrence and Lyall — men distinguished no less for their 
character and intelligence than for their sympathetic under- 
standing of the Indian people- — express freely their sense 
of the unnaturalness and probable impermanence of our 
power, while those who loudly postulate in the Englishman 
an indefeasible right to rule, and in the Indian an innate 
craving to be ruled, are apt to be men whose intelligence 

* Sir Mortimer Durand's Life of Sir Alfred Comyn Lyall, pp. 89 
and 95. 


we must take on trust, since they have given no other con- 
spicuous proof of it? 

In point of character, Sir Herbert Edwardes ranks very 
high among the heroes of British India. He was one of the 
strongest men of a masterful generation ; and he was the 
bosom friend and confidant of John Nicholson, a man not 
to be suspected of taking or tolerating sentimental or pusil- 
lanimous views of any situation whatever. Hear, then, what 
Herbert Edwardes has to say: 

If we would but think of it a bit, is not our Indian Empire just 
the most abnormal and unnatural thing in all this topsy-turvy 
fallen world of ours? And is it not, then, the most unreasonable 
thing to take it so easy as we do, and assume that it will go on 
for ever.^ Surely it would be no great wonder if India, now so 
topsy-turvy, were to go turvy-topsy some fine day, and right 
itself, as it were, in the creation. . . . 

God would never have put upon two hundred millions of men 
the heavy trial of being subject to thirty millions of foreigners, 
merely to have their roads improved, their canals constructed 
upon more scientific principles, their letters carried by a penny 
post, their messages flashed by lightning, their erroneous notions 
of geography corrected ; nor even to have their internal quarrels 
stopped and peace restored, and life in many ways ameliorated. 
. . . Tliis free and sympathizing country, which has now a heart 
for Italy, and shouts across these narrower seas "Italy for the 
Italians!" should * lift that voice still higher and shout across the 
world "India for the Indians!" In short, England, taught by 
both past and present, siiould sot before her the noble policy of 
first fitting India for freedom and then setting her free. 

It may take years, it may take a century, to fit India for self- 
government, but it is a thing wortli doing and a thing that may 
be done. It is a distinct and intelligible policy for England to 

•The omission, for brevity's sake, of a portion of this parajiraph. 
lias forced me here and in the following sentence, to substitute "should" 
for "would." The sense is uiuiffcetcd. 



pursue — a way for both countries out of the embarrassments 
of their twisted destinies.* 

It is only fair to add that Edwardes believed in the con- 
version of India to Christianity. "Until she is leavened with 
Christianity," he wrote, "she will be unfit for freedom." 
And again: "If we pursue the ignis fatuus of secular educa- 
tion in a pagan land, destitute of other light, then we Eng- 
lish will lose India without those Indians gaining any 

The half-century which has elapsed since these words were 
written does not seem to me (though it does seem to others) 
to lend encouragement to the idea of a formal Christianiza- 
tion of India. But if we give a liberal interpretation to the 
phrase "leavened with Christianit}'," we may perhaps admit 
that even here Edwardes was not so far wrong. And, this 
question of method apart, do not sound sense and right feel- 
ing breathe from every syllable of the passage I have 

In calling the course he advocated "a distinct and intel- 
ligible policy," Edwardes went to the heart of the matter. 
He might justly have called it "the only intelligible policy;" 
for the alternative policy of staking our all on the perma- 
nence of the raj postulates a rigidity of conditions unknown 
in human affairs. Everyone admits that India is changing 
rapidly before our eyes, and that measures to which the 
Government is committed must accelerate the process. Is 
the dogma that, change how it may, it can never so change 
as to be capable of managing its own affairs, a reasonable, 
an intelligible doctrine.'' 

There is, indeed, one intelligible argument in favour of 
the assumption of permanence, though, for obvious reasons, 

* Our Indian Empire: Its Beginning and End, by Maj or-General 
Sir H. B. Edwardes, K.C.B. (1861). 


it is not often openly stated. "Of course," it may be said, 
"we do not deny the ultimate mutability of human affairs, 
or doubt that our Indian Empire is subject to the law of 
change. But it is for the good of India that we should hold 
on as long as possible ; and to that end we must loudly assert 
that we are here for ever and a day, since any admission to 
the contrary would fatally diminish our prestige." I do not 
say that tliis argument is quite without weight, or that in- 
conveniences would not result from any sudden and sen- 
sational proclamation of the temporary nature of our rule. 
But, closely examined, the argument will be found to move in 
a circle. For the prestige which would be impaired is needed 
to support a permanent, autocratic rule, imposed without 
regard to the will or feelings of the people. If the nature 
of our rule can be gradually altered — or rather, not its 
nature, but its theory — so that it shall be recognized as a 
collaboration with all that is best in the Indian character 
towards the great end of creating a united, self-respecting 
India, then the prestige of the heaven-sent autocrat, the in- 
fallible, inevitable, immovable sahib, will no longer be essen- 
tial to the efficiency of government. In other words, by 
insisting on the perpetuity of the raj, we create the con- 
ditions which compel us to rely upon prestige, which means, 
after all, a certain measure of illusion. I am a great be- 
liever — as it would seem Herbert Edwardes was too — in the 
ultimate wisdom of looking facts in the face. If both Eng- 
land and India can be induced to do so, the romance of their 
association may resolve itself into beneficent reality for 
themselves and for the world. 

But it is necessary that both parties should adopt this 
salutary principle, and that India should realize how much 
she has to learn and to unlearn before she can reasonably 
claim an equal place among the ci^•ilized nations of the world. 
Rapid as her progress has been in some respects, the essen- 



tial fact is that the great mass of her people are at this 
moment given over to beliefs, prejudices and habits a thou- 
sand years behind those of races who live efficiently in the 
real world. A country which has lain for twenty or thirty 
centuries under the maleficent spell of caste, fetishism, cow- 
and-Brahmin worship, and almost equally enen'ating meta- 
physics, cannot all of a sudden wake up, rub his eyes, and 
claim to be a civilized nation. There is now, as we have seen, 
every likelihood of a great and fairly rapid change in the 
mental condition of the masses ; and until that change has 
had time to make itself felt, it would be madness for India 
to attempt to stand alone. 

Another fact which must be looked in the face, is that 
the unification of India is not an accomplished reality, but 
a far-off ideal. British rule has done much to promote it, 
but it is stiU a vision of th6 educated few rather than an 
efficient factor in the general consciousness. * Mr. Edwyn 
Bevan, in his thoughtful book on Indian Nationalism, uses a 
telling and very just image, when he speaks of India as a 
patient who has suffered many fractures, and British rule 
as the plaster-of-Paris packing round the broken limbs. 
The premature removal of the casing would undo all the 
surgeon's work, and leave the patient a hopeless cripple. 

A third fact is that, even if India threw off British rule, 

* Sir Madhava Rao, fonnerly Minister of the Baroda state, said to 
Lord Roberts: "We have heard the cry of 'India for the Indians' which 
some of your philanthropists have raised in England; but you have only 
to go to the Zoological Gardens and open the doors of the cages, and 
you would very soon see what would be the result of putting that theory 
into practice. There would be a terrific fight among the animals, which 
would end in the tiger walking proudly over the dead bodies of the rest." 
"MTiom do you consider to be the tiger?" Lord Roberts inquired. "The 
Muhammadan from the North," was the reply. Forty-one Years in India, 
Vol. II., p. 388. This conversation dates from more than a quarter of a 
century ago; but the condition to which it points is not one to be quickly 



and deliberately made up her mind to relapse into 
eighteenth-century anarchy, she would certainly not be per- 
mitted to do so. The world would not stand by and see the 
chaos of Mexico repeated on a vaster scale. There is more 
than one Power that would ask for nothing better than a 
pretext for stepping into England's shoes, and forcing peace 
and order upon India by methods probably far more drastic 
than those of the British Administration. When Rajah 
Dinkur Rao, the Gwalior Prime Minister, assured Sir Alfred 
Lyall that "the natives prefer a bad government to our best 
patent institutions," Sir Alfred's comment was : "I know he 
is right ;" and we hear the same story on every hand. But the 
alternative of reverting to the sort of bad government they 
are said to like, is not, in fact, open to the Indian people. 
They maj- easily fall under a worse government than ours, 
but it will have none of the imagined charms of the good old 
days of Maratha and Pindari, begar and chuuth. * For a 
brief interval, no doubt, chaos may be revived ; but assuredly 
it will not be suffered to endure. India has once for all been 
drawn into the stream of the world-movement, and her 
ancient backwater is for ever closed to her. 

Impatient spirits are fond of urging that political free- 
dom should precede social reform: and I certainly would 
not maintain that the one should be entirely postponed to 
the other. If a nation had to be thorouglily civilized before 
it was fit for self-government, the world would indeed be in 
a parlous state. What people can boast itself fully emanci- 
pated from degrading superstitions, and evil traditions, and 
surs'ivals of ancient blindness and folly? If India's feet 
were once firmly set upon the upward path, we might rea- 
sonably fall to discussing the point at which she might be left 
to her own devices without danger of relapse. But the truth 
is that the upward movement has barelj' begun, and only in 
* Forced labour and blackmail. 



certain limited classes. The great mass of the people are 
practically untouched by the spirit of progress ; they do 
not want it; they resent it; and so long as that frame of 
mind subsists, some outward stimulus is necessary to prevent 
a general slip-back. The actual resentment of the rudi- 
ments of civilization is, I believe, dying away, at all events 
in certain districts. It is quite conceivable that, when once 
the decisive impulse is given, things may move with gather- 
ing momentum, and that fifty or sixty years may see a sur- 
prising change. But, in the meantime, to start India ofi" on 
an independent career would be like sending a great liner to 
sea with wrangHng landsmen for officers and a crew of 

There exists as yet (so far as I have been able to dis- 
cover) no plausible scheme for national organization apart 
from British rule. The Gaekwar of Baroda, speaking to 
Mr. Price CoUier, "hinted at a federation of states under 
a central government ;" and this, no doubt, is the idea which 
naturally suggests itself. But no one has apphed any con- 
structive imagination to the task of drawing up detailed 
proposals for serious discussion. When I have .asked why 
this obvious preliminary to self-government was neglected, 
the answer has been that anyone who dared to put forward 
such proposals would be prosecuted, and perhaps deported. 
If this be so — if a cahn and unprovocative survey of possi- 
bilities in the matter of national organization would be 
treated by the Government as seditious — there could not be 
a better example of the purblind policy against which my 
whole argument is directed. Government ought to place no 
obstacle in the way of any feeling-forward of the Indian 
mind towards a stable and ordered method of self-regulation. 
If the ideal to be aimed at were, in a general way, clear and 
accepted, the course of intellectual and social training 
necessary for its realization would be immensely facili- 


tated. It is because no ideal is proposed — no goal, how- 
ever distant, offered to hope and endeavour — that national 
sentiment is so apt to wander off into visions of catastrophic 
revolution, without plan, without forecast, without any 
reasonable or probable expectation of the achievement of 
lasting good. Mr. E. B. Havell enlarges on the splendid 
results attained by Indian master-builders (as distinct from 
architects) who go to work, it woiJd seem, without any 
definite plan. That may be possible in building palaces, 
but not in building states. * It would be madness for India 
to throw off her present organization without any clear 
conception of that which was to take its place. Her archi- 
tect-statesmen ought to devote earnest thought and care to 
designing her ultimate polity, and the Government ought to 
encourage them to do so. If she has no architect-statesmen 
capable of working out the problem, and producing a scheme 
or schemes wliich shall offer reasonable chances of success, 
the inference is that she is still more unripe for self-govern- 
ment than I, for my part, imagine her to be.f 

It may be asked who is to be the judge as to when India is 
ripe for swaraj, and whether there is any likelihood that 
India and England will ever come to a peaceful agreement 
on that point. I reply that we need not cross this bridge 
before we come to it. Let me add that I do not think the 
difficulty at all a serious one. If India earnestly applies 
herself to the task of qualifying for recognition as a sclf- 

• It may be said that the British constitution was not designed, but 
grew. Yes: but a modern state, which aspires to peaceful development, 
cannot wait for its constitution to grow. It must start with some definite 
scheme of national life, which does not exclude, of course, the probability 
of subsequent growth. 

t So, too, it were greatly to be desired that at least one or two Indian 
politicians should show a statesman-like realization of the larger issues 
of the emigration question discussed in Chapter VII. I have not come 
across any very penetrating forecast of the economic future of Indi.i, 
though in such a work there could be no question of "sedition." 



respecting, self-directing member of the Grand Committee 
of civilized nations, she will one day make foreign tutelage 
such a manifest superfluity that it will cease and determine 
almost by process of nature. One imagines that the ulti- 
mate discussion may be rather between the forward and the 
backward party in India itself, than between India as a 
whole and England. It is almost inconceivable, at any 
rate, that England should attempt to maintain by force of 
arms her autocracy over a country unanimously demanding 
independence, and giving evidence, by that very unanimity, 
of a highly-developed national self-consciousness. As soon 
as the Indian people are capable of forming a sane political 
judgment, that judgment will command respect. So long, 
on the contrary, as the withdrawal of outside control would 
hand over the patient, inarticulate masses to mere anarchy 
and class-exploitation, we cannot honourably renounce the 
responsibility which, wisely or unwisely, we have once for 
all assumed. 

Indian patriotism should take particular note of the 
history of the Mutiny, and realize the causes of its failure. 
They fall, as I understand the matter, under three heads. 
In the first place, there was no national idea for the people 
to rally to; and this, it may be said with some truth, is 
now changed; a similar movement to-day would probably 
call forth a wider popular response. In the second place, 
there was no statesmanship or generalship behind the revolt ; 
and who can say that, now or in the near future, a similar 
movement would bring to light a more adequate provision 
of these qualities? "You give us no opportunity to develop 
them !" it may be said ; but, in the case of statesmanship, this 
is not true. Many able politicians have, in fact, been de- 
veloped ; but is there any one of such conspicuous genius that 
he could reasonably hope to command imiversal respect, 
and grapple successfully with the giant problems, first of the 


war itself, and secondly of the reconstruction that would 
have to be faced after the overthrow of the British 
power? I have a sincere admiration for some of the leaders 
of the National movement, but, frankly, I do not see a 
Cromwell on the horizon ; and no lesser man could, under 
present circumstances, give to insurrection the slightest 
chance of a prosperous issue. The third reason for the 
failure of the Mutiny is intimately connected with the 
second, and may almost be said to be included in it. If there 
had been any brain, any insight or foresight, behind the 
movement, it would not have taken the form of a headlong 
relapse into barbarism. In Deussen's very instructive book, 
which I have already quoted more than once, there occurs 
the following curious passage: 

The chief sights of Cawnpore consist of a Memorial Church, 
a disused well, surmounted by a beautiful statue of an Angel, and 
other monuments, all referring to the Mutiny, as the English term 
the rebellion of 1857. Had the rebels attained their end . . . 
they would have been held in honour by their nation, as we honor 
Schill, Scharnhorst, Bliicher, and the other heroes of the Wars of 
Independence. As they were overthrown, they are now termed 
mutineers and their memory decried. 

Dr. Deussen omits to mention the reason why the well is 
"disused"- — namclj-, that it contains the bodies of some 
six-score butchered women and cliildren. And the infamies 
of Cawnpore were only the culmination of a campaign of 
massacre, wliich, in its very nature, was foredoomed to 
failure. Had the British been encountered by ciWlized, 
enlightened, organized patriotism, which offered them, if 
beaten in fair fight, an honourable retreat from the country, 
with their women and children unharmed, it is not at all im- 
probable that they might have weakened in the unequal 
struggle. Faced with the alternative of victory or massacre, 



they set their teeth and chose victory. That is why to-day, 
over the battered ruins of the Residency at Lucknow, "the 
banner of England blows." And that is wh}' no fair-minded 
Indian ought to blame us if we take all reasonable precau- 
tions against the recurrence of a frenzy which was, and 
would be again, far more calamitous to liis country than 
to ours. 

The moral of these reflections is that Indian self-govern- 
ment is bound to come, almost automatically, as soon as 
the country is intellectually, morally and socially prepared 
for it; whereas any attempt to upset the existing order, 
whUe the nation is imperfectly welded together and but 
slowly emerging from barbarism, would, even if it nominally 
succeeded, mean a reversion to anarchy which the world 
could not and would not permit. Should England get into 
serious trouble elsewhere, India might doubtless achieve 
the expulsion of her depleted garrison and her "sun-dried 
bureaucrats" with their mountainous "files." But they 
would in all probability only make room for a more dom- 
ineering garrison, and another breed of bureaucrats, per- 
haps congenitallj' j'ellow of hue. 

I suggest, then, that patience and unwearied effort in the 
cause of enlightenment ought to be the watchword of sane 
Indian patriotism. It should in especial devote itself, not 
merely to the ventilation of grievances, but to constructive 
thinking-forward. Notliing could more effectually reinforce 
the demand for ultimate self-government than some unmis- 
takable, proofs of the power of reasoned political forecast, as 
distinct from the power to carry on a mere campaign of 
criticism and opposition, however able. But if we ask for 
patience, sanity and constructive thought on the part of 
our Indian friends, we must meet them with similar qualities 
on our own side. We must not take our stand on a dogma 
of perpetuity which is as unpractical as it is unphilosoph- 


ical. We must recognize — I repeat the phrase for the 
twentieth time, for it puts the matter in a nutshell — that 
our rule is a means, not an end. It is not a good in itself, 
but an alternative to greater evils. Only on condition that 
it is recognized as such can it ever be tolerable to enlightened 
and self-respecting Indians — the class which we have our- 
selves done so much to enlarge, and which must inevitably 
go on growing. We can reasonably ask these Indians to co- 
operate with us in the enfranchisement of their countrymen 
— enfranchisement, in the first instance, from age-old spirit- 
ual and social bonds — but we cannot expect them to co- 
operate loyally in measures confessedly directed to per- 
petual enthralment. 

I am no belittler of our work in India. In my heart I 
am perhaps irrationally proud of it. We have lavislily 
spent on India the best we had to spend in talent and in 
character. It has been a very real sacrifice, not only 
national but individual. For, though the Indian ser%'iccs 
may offer "the lordliest Hfe on earth," it is also one of the 
most laborious and most thankless. Anglo-Indian biography 
is, in the main, very tragic reading. In saying so I do not 
think merelj' of the thousands who have laid down their lives 
in and for India, but also of the two or three-score men, 
from Viceroys downwards, who might be called conspicuous 
successes. Many of them have sacrificed their health, almost 
all their peace of mind, to tlieir splendid but almost super- 
human responsibilities. The "land of regrets" is also, and 
above all, the land of disappointments, and of the patient 
endurance of misundei-standing, misrepresentation, and, not 
infrequently, bitter and undeserved humiliation. 

"If tears be the price of empery. 
Lord God ! we ha' paid in full — " 



and most of all in those unshed tears that, dropping in- 
wardly, sear the greatest souls. 

Without skulking behind a "perhaps" or an "almost," I 
make bold to call our rule in India the most heroic adventure 
in history. But every adventure must have an end; and if 
this one could, by miracle, be eternalized, that would only 
mean that it had missed the highest success. An end must 
come; and this book is inspired, however inadequately, by 
the desire and hope that it may be a glorious one. Or at 
least, if fate has otherwise decreed, and a tragic doom im- 
pends, let us endeavour that liistory may not have to find 
the tragische Schuld in our own uninteUigence. 




Abdul Qadib, Shaikh, 123. 
Abu, Mount, 210, 241. 
Aga Khan, H.H. the, 112. 
Agra, 1, 105, 153, 242. 
Ahmedabad, 148. 
Ajanta frescoes, 245. 
Akbar, 152, 253. 
Alexander the Great, 1, 10. 
Allahabad, 12, 153. 
Amaravati stupa, 198. 
Amritsar, 1, 13. 
Andrews, Rev. C. F., 105, 281. 
"Anglo-Indian," 7, 123. 
Animals, Cruelty to, 87. 
Animism, 68. 
Antiochos, 16. 
Aranyakas, 59. 

Hindu, 239. 

Muhammadan, 241, 249. 
Arjuna, 50, 74, 78, 218, 227, 232, 

2S0, 252. 

Hindu, 188-211. 

Muhammadan, 237-244. 
Aryans, 25, 56, 66, 08, 118, 190. 
Arya Samaj, 62, 97, 270-281. 
Aryavarta, 23, 73, 200. 
Asceticism, 79-82, 206, 218. 
Asoka, 28, 252, 253. 
Aurungzeb, 51, 152, 239, 248, 253. 
Ayodhya, 221, 236. 

Babah, 1. 

Babu, The, 122, 260. 

Babu, English, 266. 

Badami, 201. 

Baden-Powell, B. H., 164. 

Baluchistan, 139. 

Bana, 230. 

"Bande Mataram," 122, 285. 

Bangalore, 9. 

Baroda, Gaekwar of, 312. 

Benares, 1, 12, 260. 

Bengal, Partition of, 46. 

Bernier, 153, 155. 

Besant, Mrs., 22, 56, 81, 116. 

Bevan, Edwyn, 310. 

Bhagavad Gita, 74, 252. 

Bhagiratha, 225. 

Bharata, 217. 

Bhavabhuti, 232. 

Bhima, 218. 

Bijapur, 1. 

Bikanir, Maharaja of, 122. 

Birdwood, Sir George, 189. 

Bombay, 11, 98, 110, 114, 117, 148. 

Bodhisattvas, 202. 

Boro Budur, Reliefs at, 200. 

Brahma, 65, 69, 75, 217. 

Brahmanas, 59, 65, 274. 

Braliminism, 68, 84, 85, 102. 

Brahmins, 38, 50, 65, 76. 

Brahmo Samaj, 97, 266. 

Bramachari Bawa, 57. 

British Empire, 21, 166, 185, 286. 

India its strategic frontier, 140. 
British rule: 

A means, not an end, 17, 80, 186, 

"A miracle," 301. 

Indictment by Mr. Gokhnle, 130. 


British rule: 
Is India overcharged for, 128- 

"Most abnormal and unnatural 
thing," 307. 

Bryce, Lord, 296, 302. 

Buddha, Gautama, 65, 66, 74, 88, 
195, 253. 
Images of, 201. 

Buddhism, 70, 74, 97, SJ4S. 

Buland Darwaza, 243. 

Burdwan, Maharajadhiraja Baha- 
dur of, 105. 

Burke, Edmund, 117. 

Burn, Mr., 72. 

Calcutta, 11, 31, 86, 114, 148. 
Caird, Sir James, 165. 
Caste, 27, 47, 85, 89-109. 

Brahmins, 27, 38, 50, 65, 76, 92, 
93, 94, 117, 215. 

Classification, 94. 

Dhoomnas, 96. 

Kshattryas, 92, 94, 105, 216, 219. 

Pariahs, 27, 93, 94, 95. 

Pleas in defence of, 89, 107. 

Rejected by Arj-a Samaj, 280. 

Sudras, 92, 95, 218. 

Vaisyas, 92, 94. 
Caste-marks, 32. 
Cawnpore, 95, 315. 
Central Hindu College, 94. 
Chandavarkar, Sir Narayan, 16, 

Chandragupta, 234, 252. 
Charlton, Hon. Mrs., 87. 
Chirol, Sir Valentine, 168. 
Chitor (Towers of Victory), 241. 
Christ, 72, 87, 281. 
Christianity, 91, 263, 281, 288, 308. 
Civil and Military Oazette, Letters 

to, 121. 
Civil employment. Exclusion from, 

Clubs, 13, 110. 

ColUer, Price, 41, 53, 110, 119, 312. 

Colombo, 29. 

Commercial subjection of India, 

Conjeevaram, 108. 
Coomaraswamy, Dr. A. K., 194. 
Cousin, Victor, 64. 
Crewe, Marquis of, disavows Lord 

Hardinge's despatch, 4. 
Curzon, Lord, 20, 46, 158, 182. 

Dada Habib's well, 244. 
Darmesteter, James, 257. 
Dasaratha, King, 217, 221. 
Dayanand Anglo-Vedic College, 

Dayanand Saraswati, Swami, 271, 

Delhi, 1, 153, 228, 242. 
"Demartialization," 176, 178. 
Deussen, Paul, 59, 63, 68, 106, 244, 

260, 315. 
Dilwarra Temples, 241. 
Diwan Chand, 275. 
"Drain, The" (financial), 82, 140, 
154, 163. 

Theory examined, 131-138. 
Draupadi, 250. 
Dravidians, 25, 118, 206. 
Dritarashtra, 218. 
Drona, 218, 219, 222, 250. 
Dubois, Abb6, 43, 55, 94, 127. 
Durga, 39, 209, 211. 
Duryodhana, 218. 
Dushyanta, 235. 
Dutt, Romesh Chunder, 65, 93, 99, 

Dutt, Pundit Rambhaj, 96. 

Eae-bings, 33, 150. 
East India Company, 151. 
Education, 256-294. 

Anglo-Literary, 265. 

Female, 267. 



Government resolution on, 263, 

Macaulay's Minute on, 257. 

Need of standard alphabet, 290. 

Neglect of, 170, 171. 

Patriotism as inspiring princi- 
ple, 285. 

Schoolhouses, Importance of, 

StatisUcs, 261. 

Vernacular, 102, 172, 262. 
Edwardes, Sir Herbert, 281, 307. 
Ekalavj'a, 918. 
Elephanta, 200. 
EUenborough, Lord, 261. 
EUora, 200. 
Elphinstone, Mountstuart, 151, 15-1, 

170, 303. 
Emigration, 108, 156-159, 166-170. 
Examinations, Simultaneous, 173. 

Famixe relief, 147, 164. 
Fatehpur-Sikri, 1, 154, 229, 243. 
Fergusson, James, 198. 
Fuller, Sir Bampfylde, 3, 87, 89, 

Gait, Sm E. A., 100, 101, 161. 

Gambling, 109, 222. 

Ganesh, 37, 86, 196, 206, 262, 280. 

Gangetic Valley, 65. 

Ghosh, Sarath Kumar, 104. 

Gilgit Protectorate, 139. 

Gokhale, Mr. G. K., 129, 139, 140, 

141, 145, 146, 165. 
Gould, F. J., 283. 
Griffith, R. T. H., 224. 
Growse, F. S., 225. 
Gujrat, Battle of, 1. 
Gunga (ITie Ganges), 224. 
Guru and Chela, 63, 187, 270. 
Gurukula, The, 271. 

HALEBm, 210. 

Hans Raj, Lala, 272. 

Hanuman, 86, 228, 280. 
Hardinge, Lord, his despatch of 
1911, 4. 

Attempted assassination of, 5. 
Hardwar, 271. 
Harsa Carita, 230. 
Hastings, Warren, 117. 
HaveU, E. B., 190-201, 225, 238, 

241, 247, 313. 
Hawkins, William, 155. 
Hearn, Lafcadio, 70. 
"Hewers of wood and drawers of 

water," 146, 148. 
Hindu drama, 232. 

Epics, 211. 

Sculpture, 197-211. 
Hinduism, 24, 36, 41, 47, 49, 56, 
74, 84, 89. 

Higher and lower, 67-88. 
Hinduizing movement, 102. 
Hindus versus Muhammadans, 48, 

49, 112. 
Hoernle, Dr., 97. 
Holderness, Sir Thomas, 46. 
Horrwitz, Ernst P., 209. 
Hoysalesvara Temple, 210. 
Humayun's Tomb, Delhi, 154, 243. 
Hunter, Sir William, 153. 
Hyderabad (Deccan), 10, 153. 
Hyder Ali, 253. 
Hyslop, Professor, 72. 


Barbarous or civilized, 6, 28, 33, 

34, 40. 
Area, 10. 
Population, 10. 
Population problem, 157, 165 territorj-, 10. 
Native states, 10, 135. 
"Golden Age," 23, 28, 57, 66. 
Racial diversities, 43. 
Compared with Italy, 2, 43, 249. 
Compared with Greece, 249. 
Geographical unity, 44. 




Multiplicity of languages, 46. 

The "Motherland," 49, 168. 

"Idealism," 59, 109. 

Philosophy, 61-65, 196. 

Poverty, 127, 150. 

Causes of poverty, 151, 165. 

Lack of capital, 133, 148-150. 

Taxation, Incidence per head, 

Defence, Cost of, 136. 

Her value to Britain, 143. 

Trade with Britain, 144. 

Commercial subjection, 145, 150. 

Land revenue, 159. 

Agriculture, 164, 165. 

Death-rate rising, 165. 

Sanitation, 166. 

Her "greatest asset," 168. 

Magna Charta of, 172. 

Contrasted with Japan, 177. 
India OfSce, Cost of, 144. 
Indian Mutiny, 10, 51, 180, 315. 

Music, 254. 
Indians : 

In Government service, 14. 

Physical types, 26, 29, 30. 

Had no word for patriotism, 47. 

Hindus versus Muhammadans, 
49, 50, 112. 

"Vain and self-sufficient people," 

Character and religion, 83. 

Emancipated, 114, 125. 

AssimUative talent, 125. 

"Chosen People," 185. 

Psychology, 252. 
Indra, 62. 
Infanticide, 100. 
Irrigation, 169. 

Jaganjtath car, 37, 38. 

Jahanglr, 155. 

Jainism, 38, 85, 97, 202. 

Japan contrasted with India, 177. 


Jewellery, 33, 150. 
Jumma Musjid, 154, 243. 

Kaiketi, Queen, 226. 

Kala pani. Prohibition of crossing, 

108, 299. 
KaU, 39, 49, 209, 280. 
Kalidasa, 81, 232. 
Kalighat, The, 86. 
Kanishka, 252. 
Kapila, 225. 
Karma, 69-73. 
Kama, 227, 250. 
Kashmir, 1. 
Kennedy, James, 256. 
Khyber Pass, 1. 

King-Emperor's visit to India, 4. 
Kipling, Rudyard, 22. 
Knowles, Rev. R. J., 290. 
Kohat, 95. 

Koran, The, 270, 288. 
Krishna, 50, 75, 78, 209, 246, 252. 
Kunti, 250. 
Kurukshetra, Battle of, 1, 58, 75, 

222, 229. 

Lahore, 1, 12, 95, 141, 153, 242, 

271, 301. 
Lakshman, 217, 232, 250. - 
Lanka (Ceylon), 228. 
Lawrence, Sir Henry, 294, 305. 
Lely, Sir F. S. P., 263. 
Leopardi, 73. 
Loti, Pierre, 36, 38. 
Low, Sydney, 2. 
Lucknow, 12, 316. 
LyaU, Sir Alfred, 36, 44, 84, 116, 

170, 173, 256, 282, 302, 305, 


Macattlat, Lord, 160, 303. 

His Minute on education, 257. 
Macdonald, Rev. K. S., 61. 
Madhura, 260. 
Madras, 11, 110, 117. 


Madura, 31, 49, 197, 241. 

The great temple, 35. 
Magic, 207, 68, 79, 219. 
Mahabharata, The, 50, 80, 217, 229, 

Malati and Madhava, 233. 
Malavikagnimitra, 238. 
Mamallapuram, 201. 
Manners and customs: 

Of British, 14, 110-126. 

Of Indians, 117, 120. 
Manu, Laws of, 100. 
Marriage, Infant, 96, 99, 102, 106, 

Marriage of widows forbidden, 99, 

Megasthenes, 28. 
Memsahib, The, 13, 112, 115. 
Menander, 16. 
Mendicants, 81. 
Metaphysics, Indian, 196. 
Metcalfe, Sir Charles, 170, 304. 
Metempsjxhosis, 69-73, 85. 
Military expenditure, 131-136, 138- 

Military training. Denial of, 176- 

Mitra, Mr. S. M., 270. 
Mogul Empire, 151-158, 178, 245. 
Mnnier-Williams, Sir M., 214, 215, 

Morison, Sir Theodore, 59, 132, 

151, 156, 163. 
Morley, Lord, 296. 
Mudra Rakshasa, 234. 
Muhammad, 87. 
Muhammadanism, 47, 48, 83, 91, 

114, 238. 
Muhammadans, 47, 51, 150, 168. 
Muhammadans versus Hindus, 48, 

51, 112. 
Miillcr, Max, 60, 92, 276. 
Munro, Sir Tlionias, 151. 
Munshi Ram, JIahatmn, 272, 273. 
Mysore, 10. 

Nadih Shah, 1. 

Naidu, Sarojini, 23. 

Nakula, 218. 

Nana Sahib, 95. 

Naoroji, Mr. Dadabhai, 22, 133, 

140, 160. 
Nevinson, H. W., 2. 
Nicholson, John, 115, 307. 
Nirvana, 74. 
Nose-rings, 33, ISO. 

Okakuba, Kakuzo, 298. 
Olcott, Colonel H. S., 56. 
OM (mystic syUable), 64. 
Oman, Professor, 57. 

Painting, 24S-248. 
Panchagavya, 86, 98. 
Pandu, 218. 
Panipat, Battles of, 1. 
Pariahs, 27, 93, 94, 95. 
Parsis, 22, 110, 148. 
Parvati, 113. 
Paul, Saint, 87. 
Peacock throne, 154. 
Pessimism, 73-79. 
Pindaris (marauders), 104. 
Pinjrapole hospitals, 86. 
Plassey, Battle of, 1, 29. 
Poona, 12. 
Ptolemy, 16. 
Punjab, 65. 
Puranas, 64, 274. 
Purdah women, 47, 111. 

RA,iruTs, 1, 100, 110. 
Railways, 53, 98, 102, 146. 
Kama, 113, 218, 221, 225, 226, 227, 

232, 236, 250. 
Ramanujachariar, Mr. N., 103. 
Ramayana, The, 50, 212, 214, 217, 

223, 232, 239, 283. 
Ranade, Mr. Justice, 184. 
Rao, Rajah Dinkur, 311. 
Rao, Sir Madhava, 310. 



Ravan, 214, 217, 226. 
Rebellion, Possibility of, 18. 
Retnavali, 224, 233, 238. 
Rishis, 1, 57, 61, 79, 109, 235. 
Risley, Sir Herbert, 94, 98, 102, 

Roberts, Lord, 141, 143, 310. 
Roe, Sir Thomas, 153, 156. 

Sadhus, 82. 

Sahadeva, 218. 

Saint Nihal Singh, 47, 93. 

Sakuntala, 76, 219, 221, 81, 232, 

SaUsbury, Lord, 22. 
Samudragupta, 28. 
Sannyasis, 82. 
Satrugna, 217. 

Savings Bank statistics, ISO. 
Schopenhauer, Arthur, 64. 
Sculpture, Hindu and Buddhist, 

Gandharan, 202, 205. 
Sect-marks, 32. 
Secunderabad, 10. 
"Servants of India," 129, 290. 
Shah Alam, Tomb of, 241. 
Shah Jahan, 152, 239, 253. 
Sidi Sayjid, Mosque of, 241. 
Sikhs, 1, 85, 97. 
"Sister Nivedita," 113, 118, 217. 
Sita, 113, 223, 232, 236, 250. 
Siva, 33, 113, 207, 209, 310, 225, 

Sivaji, 253. 
Smith, Vincent A., 16, 44, 198, 201, 

Sobraon, Battle of, 1. 
"Spirituality," Hindu, 55-88. 
Sri Shankaranand Sannyasi, 262. 
Steevens, G. W., 2. 
Sujampur, 97. 
Surpanakha, 222. 

Suttee, 99, 101, 104, 239. 
Swadeshism, 122. 
Swaraj, 293, 313. 

Tagohe, Abanindho Nath, 251. 
Tagore, Sir Rabindra Nath, 205. 
Taj Mahal, The, 154, 243. 
Tanjore, 37, 197. 
Theosophy, 69, 184, 190, 193. 
Thugs, 104. 
Tirthankaras, 203. 
Timur, 1. 

Townsend, Meredith, 259, 301. 
Toy-Cart, The, 333. 
Transmigration, 69-73. 
Trichinopoly, 37, 197. 
Tulsi Das, 315, 225. 
Tuticorin, 31. 

"Untouchables," 27, 92. 
Upanishads, 59, 63, 66. 
Uttara Rama Ckeritra, 236. 

Vasishtha, 216, 223, 276. 
Vedanta, 59, 68. 

Vedas, 59, 60, 65, 69, 84, 92, 109, 
188, 2T1. 
"Back to the Vedas," 264-380. 
Viddka SaJabhankija, 238. 
Vidura, 318. 
Vijayanagar, 200. 
Vikramia and Urvasi, 236. 
Vikramaditya, 252. 
Vishnu, 32, 74, 217, 236. 
Visvamitra, 216, 223. 
Vivekananda, Swami, 279. 
Vyasa, 218. 

Welis, H. G., 57. 
Wilson, H. H., 236. 

Yoga, 75, 79, 193, 196. 
Yudishthira, 218, 222, 250. 


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